KOFI ANNAN, SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS
"It's a grave matter. It is a question of war and peace -- and I think it is appropriate that the Council goes about it in a deliberate manner."
The Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, as the Security Council continues wrestling with the thorny issues of Iraq, its leader Saddam Hussein, and the charges the country has weapons of mass destruction.
At a campaign stop in the western U.S. state of New Mexico, President George W. Bush repeated what has become something of a litany…
U.S. PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH
"Either the United Nations will do its duty to disarm Saddam Hussein – or Saddam Hussein will disarm himself…"
If neither will act, President Bush said again, the now familiar words: "the (U.S.) will lead a coalition and disarm (him),” as he put it, "...in the name of peace, freedom and a secure tomorrow…"
But in Paris, after meeting with his Finnish counterpart, the foreign minister of France, Dominique de Villepin, said France rejects any (resolution) clause on: "automatic recourse to force," saying, in his words: "...that can only be the last resort…"
The French foreign minister said further, "There is no miracle solution" to the problem of Iraq.
France, Russia, and China -- all holding veto power -- want any resolution to give Iraq a chance to cooperate with UN weapons inspectors. If it fails to do so, only then would the Security Council meet to consider military action -- under a second resolution.
Aboard Air Force One -- enroute to that New Mexico rally -- White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters, "The time has come for people to raise their hands and cast their vote." As he put it: "The United Nations has debated this long enough…"