President Bush has telephoned French President Jacques Chirac as part of the U.S. push for a tough new U.N. resolution demanding that Iraq disarm or face military action.
Mr. Bush told the French president he wants the United Nations to pass a single resolution that is firm and effective. But Mr. Chirac said France prefers two resolutions: one on returning U.N. weapons inspectors to Iraq, the other authorizing force if necessary.
The president's call comes as a top U.S. diplomat travels to France and Russia seeking support for the U.S. approach. The envoy, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman, met with advisers to Mr. Chirac and French Foreign Ministry officials in Paris Friday. No details on the talks were released.
Mr. Grossman heads to Moscow Saturday.
Both governments say they want to avoid using force against Iraq. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Friday, Russia has seen no clear proof that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.
Speaking to reporters in Moscow, Mr. Invanov said U.N. weapons inspectors must return to Iraq. He said delaying their departure would be, in his words, an unforgiveable mistake.
Thursday, Secretary of State Colin Powell announced that the United States and Britain have agreed on language for their version of the proposed U.N. resolution. But Mr. Powell acknowledged it will be difficult to win acceptance from the other three members of the U.N. Security Council: France, Russia, and China.
Meanwhile in Washington, President Bush is encountering more opposition on Iraq from leaders of the Democratic Party. Senator Ted Kennedy said Friday that war against Iraq should be a last resort, not a first response. He said Washington's top priority should be getting U.N. weapons inspectors back into Iraq.