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Britain Urges Haste in Approving Stronger Resolution on Iraq - 2002-10-23


Britain says the Security Council should hurry and approve a tough new resolution on Iraq. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw issued the call.

Foreign Secretary Straw told reporters he is a patient man, but time is running out for the Security Council to act. "We cannot wait forever. I do not believe we shall have to. And although the negotiations have been painstaking, as ever over such an issue, but they have also so far been constructive," he said.

Tuesday, President Bush's spokesman Ari Fleischer said the United States will not wait "forever" for the Security Council to reach agreement.

Mr. Straw visited Washington last week to discuss the U.N. effort with Secretary of State Colin Powell, and he said there is no precise deadline set for when the negotiations might be called off. "We are all committed to the negotiations. We do not want them to fail. The president of the United States has invested great faith in the United Nations machinery to seek a clear resolution of this flagrant breech by Iraq of international law laid down by the United Nations itself. I can not put an exact time scale on this, but we hope, and even more, are working intensively for a positive result," Mr. Straw said.

The foreign secretary said he cannot rule out two Security Council resolutions, one setting terms for renewed weapons inspections in Iraq, and another authorizing military force if Iraq does not comply.

The two-stage approach is favored by France, Russia, and China, who with the United States and Britain have permanent seats, and veto power, on the Security Council.

The current U.S. draft resolution, supported by Britain, calls for what is termed "serious consequences" if Iraq fails to cooperate with weapons inspectors. France and Russia have said that is too close to a mandate for force.