President Bush is continuing to make his case for action against Iraq, campaigning for support both at home and abroad. If the international community does not force Iraq to disarm, Mr. Bush says the United States is ready to move on its own.
President Bush telephoned French President Jacques Chirac Friday saying he wants a "firm and effective" outcome to talks on a U.N. resolution forcing Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to disarm.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says the president does not support the French leader's call for a two-step process at the U.N. - one that warns the Iraqi leader to comply with weapons inspections, the second approving the use of force if he does not.
A spokeswoman for the French President says Mr. Chirac restated his commitment to the two-step approach considering what she called "the gravity of the decisions to be taken" and their consequences.
The president's call came as a top U.S. diplomat travels to France and Russia seeking support for the American approach. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman heads to Moscow Saturday. Secretary of State Colin Powell says the United States and Britain are together on a U.N. resolution but it will be "difficult" to win acceptance from the other permanent members of the Security Council Russia, China, and France.
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Friday he has seen no clear proof that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.
Campaigning in the western state of Colorado, President Bush pointed out the Iraqi leader is stockpiling chemical and biological weapons. Because of the threat, Mr. Bush says there will be no negotiating with the Iraqi leader over weapons inspectors.
"He can either get rid of his weapons and the United Nations can act, or the United States will lead a coalition to disarm this man," said Mr. Bush. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the president has still not decided whether to use U.S. force in Iraq. Speaking in Atlanta Friday, he said the goal would be removing Saddam Hussein from power not necessarily killing him, saying that if the Iraqi leader is on the run, he is not governing Iraq.
Some Senate Democrats have accused President Bush of politicizing his call for action against Iraq. Mr. Bush stressed that it is his job to protect America against another terrorist attack. "My job is to make sure that the world's worst leader is not able to blackmail or hurt America or our friends and allies with the world's worst weapons," he said. "We have got to make sure that these dictators aren't able to team-up with terrorist groups and use their weapons of mass destruction as a way to intimidate those of us who love freedom."
He told voters in Colorado that he went to the United Nations earlier this month to ask the international community to act against Iraq because its credibility is on the line after Saddam Hussein has violated more than a decade of U.N. resolutions.
"In order to secure the freedom in the 21st century, it is important to have an effective body. But you have been ineffective, I said. For 11 long years you have said one thing to the dictator in Iraq, and he has thumbed his nose," said Mr. Bush. "For 11 years, you have allowed this man to lie and deceive about weapons of mass destruction. And you have not held him to account. And now is the time."
The president said he is close to agreement with Congress on a resolution authorizing the use of U.S. force in Iraq. He wants that authority before Congress leaves ahead of mid-term elections in November.