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EU Official Supports UN Stand on Iraq - 2002-11-22

The European Union commissioner for external relations, Chris Patten, says the world community must act, if Iraq defies a United Nations disarmament resolution. Mr. Patten says the U.N.'s authority is at stake in the showdown with Iraq.

Chris Patten says he is glad the United States went through the United Nations to get a resolution demanding Iraq give up any weapons of mass destruction.

The EU commissioner told a news conference Friday, the possibility of a war in Iraq now depends on Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. "I think that's a question principally for Saddam Hussein," he said. "I think, the U.N. Security Council resolution is absolutely clear. The task is absolutely specific and directed towards Saddam Hussein's possession of weapons of mass destruction. "

Chris Patten was an outspoken critic earlier this year of what he saw as an American tendency to ignore world opinion on foreign policy issues. He was pleased that President Bush decided in September to seek U.N. support in the confrontation with Iraq.

Now, Mr. Patten says, the United Nations must stand up to any Iraqi defiance, or risk losing U.S. support. "Having persuaded the United States to work through the U.N., if that doesn't work, we can't simply walk away and wash our hands of the outcome," said Mr. Patten. "And, I think, that should be widely recognized. If we persuade the United States to act responsibly and multilaterally, and that doesn't work, then if we ever want the United States to work multilaterally again, we have to take our own responsibilities."

On another issue, Mr. Patten said officials from the European Union and the United States will meet in December in Washington to work on a mutual strategy to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

He said the continuing violence has kept the Israelis and Palestinians from demonstrating the political will to settle their differences.