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Britain:  UN Close to Agreement on New Iraq Resolution - 2002-11-04

British Prime Minister Tony Blair says the U.N. Security Council is close to agreement on a new resolution on Iraq, but he says he can not predict exactly when the resolution will be ready. Mr. Blair spoke at his monthly news conference in London.

Prime Minister Blair says Security Council members are closing in on a resolution that will be acceptable to all and still be strong enough to be effective.

"We are reaching the point of closure, I think. And I do not want to prejudge the negotiations but they are proceeding reasonably satisfactorily," he said. "And just so you understand the issue here, the absolutely critical issue for us is that we get an inspection regime in there that does not have the problems the last one had, because if we do get that situation, we will be straight back into the playing about that we had for the last ten years. I am reasonably confident that we will get that resolution. I just cannot be tied to a specific day at the present time."

Mr. Blair also addressed the issue of the role Britain is trying to play as a bridge between the United States and Europe on the Iraq issue.

"If Europe and America divide off from each other, the world becomes a more dangerous place. And in essence, in the end, it really is the old cliché that what unites us is more important than what divides us," he said. "It is true and it is important that what I am really trying to get to is where Europe takes seriously our responsibilities to deal with these issues like terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, but the U.S. also understands that there is a broader agenda of concern to others and that we do this on the basis of the maximum possible international consent and unity."

Regarding the landslide victory of the Justice and Development party in Turkey's general election, the British leader says we will just have to see how that will play out in relation to any military contingency plans regarding Iraq. But Mr. Blair believes the new Turkish government will not significantly change attitudes regarding the possible use of Turkish bases by coalition forces.

As to Saudi Arabia's announcement that it will not allow U.S. forces to use its bases in an operation against Iraq, Tony Blair says it is too early to contemplate such scenarios He also denied a British newspaper report Monday that his government has decided to call up 10,000 military reservists to prepare for a possible attack on Iraq by the beginning of next year.