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Powell Meets with Foreign Ministers at UN, Urges Deadline for Iraq - 2002-09-13

Secretary of State Colin Powell is meeting fellow foreign ministers at the United Nations Friday, as he begins a diplomatic push for a Security Council resolution requiring Iraq to disarm. Mr. Powell says such a resolution should include a deadline for Iraq to comply or face possible military action.

Mr. Powell is spending the entire day and the evening here in an unusual set of bilateral and group meetings with visiting ministers including the permanent and elected member countries of the U.N. Security Council.

The consultations follow President Bush's speech to the U.N. Thursday in which he said the United Nations risks becoming irrelevant unless it takes action requiring Iraq to comply with repeated U.N. demands over the last decade to give up its weapons of mass destruction.

The Secretary of State, also seeking to build U.S. public support for the tough approach to Iraq, appeared on three morning television programs to press the case for a U.N. resolution that, unlike those of the past, contains a deadline for Iraq to either comply or face consequences.

Mr. Powell told the CBS TV network a deadline is essential, though the amount of time Iraq will have is for the Security Council members to determine. "The president's goal in New York yesterday was not to predict military action or when it might or might not occur," he said. "It was to bring the problem to the United Nations. It's the United Nations that has been offended and violated by Saddam Hussein's actions, so I think there will be a deadline and whatever resolution we come forward with, and at least I am gonna press for a deadline. I don't want to put a time dimension on it now because I think that is really something for me and my colleagues in the Security Council to discuss, to debate and see how it comes out."

Mr. Powell said he would be presenting U.S. ideas on a course of action in his various meetings during the day, and would expect his colleagues to consult their governments over the weekend. He said follow-on meetings next week will be when the serious work what he called the "heavy-lifting" begins on a new Iraq resolution.

President Bush made no specific threat of military action against Iraq in his U.N. speech, but said this would be "unavoidable" if Iraq fails to disarm.