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Powell: UN Differences on Iraq Narrowed - 2002-10-26

The Bush administration says progress is being made toward a United Nations resolution on inspection of weapons facilities in Iraq. President Bush discussed the issue in Mexico, Saturday, where he is attending the Asia Pacific Economic Forum, known as the APEC Summit.

Speaking to reporters after Mr. Bush had met with the leaders of Mexico, Japan and South Korea, Secretary of State Colin Powell said the next week will be key to obtaining a U.N. resolution on Iraq.

"I think we have successfully narrowed down the differences to a few key issues and if we can resolve these few key issues in the days ahead then I think we might get a resolution that is strong," he said.

Mr. Powell pointed out that the sticking points include how to characterize future Iraqi violations of any new resolution and what to do if Iraq violates the resolution. For example, APEC host, Mexico, which currently holds one of the non-permanent seats on the Security Council, has opposed language that would support armed action if Iraq fails to comply.

Russia and France have also opposed the U.S. proposals on Iraq. After meeting with President Bush at his Texas ranch on Friday, Chinese leader Jiang Zemin refrained from commenting on his nation's position.

Speaking here in Cabo San Lucas, President Bush reiterated his position that the United States is prepared to act alone if the United Nations fails to confront Iraq on its weapons of mass destruction programs.

"As I have said in speech after speech after speech, if the U.N. won't act and if Saddam Hussein won't disarm, we will lead a coalition to disarm him," he said.

President Bush will spend the rest of his time here at the APEC summit discussing Iraq and other issues with other leaders and attending meetings on trade issues. He was to have met here with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but Mr. Putin canceled his visit after Chechen rebels took hostages in a Moscow theater.