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Bush Attempts to Rally International Support for Action Against Iraq - 2002-09-06

President Bush is trying to rally international support for action against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, particularly among permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, who would have veto power on any resolution regarding Iraq. Most allies oppose the possible use of U.S. force.

President Bush telephoned the leaders of Russia, China and France Friday to make his case for removing the Iraqi leader, who, Mr. Bush says, is a threat, because he could help terrorists acquire chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons.

White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer says the president told the leaders that he has still not decided whether to use military force in Iraq.

"The president, in each of his conversations, said he was calling, because he wanted to make sure that the United States is consulting with our allies around the world," the spokesman explained. "He told these leaders that he valued their opinions. The president stressed that Saddam Hussein is a threat, and that the United States was going to work together with the world to make the world more peaceful, and we welcome their role and their involvement."

Russia, China, and France have all expressed concerns about possible U.S. military action. French President Jacque Chirac says Mr. Bush should not send U.S. troops to Iraq without the approval of the U.N. Security Council.

Russian news agencies say President Vladimir Putin told Mr. Bush Friday that he does not think attacking Iraq is justified. Reports say Mr. Putin said he thinks diplomacy, not force, is needed to resolve questions about Iraqi weapons production.

President Bush continues his campaign against Saddam Hussein next week at the United Nations, where permanent Security Council members Russia, China, or France could block any resolution against the Iraqi leader.

Following that speech, Mr. Fleischer says, U.S. diplomats will travel to Moscow, Beijing, and Paris to continue consultations on Iraq.

Mr. Bush meets Saturday with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is one of the few allies backing the president's call for tougher action against Iraq.