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War With Iraq Can Still Be Avoided, says Arab League Official - 2003-01-27

Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa said war with Iraq can still be avoided. Mr. Moussa also said the U.N. weapons inspectors should be given more time.

Secretary General Amr Moussa said he has not abandoned hope that war with Iraq can be averted. Sunday, Secretary of State Colin Powell told the Davos Forum that the United States would go to war against Iraq, alone if necessary, if it does not destroy its weapons of mass destruction.

Speaking before the same gathering of political and business leaders, Jordan's King Abdullah said Sunday it would take miracle to see a peaceful resolution to the standoff over Iraq's weapons.

But Arab League chief Moussa said he is still optimistic for the chances of peace. "Miracles also could be achieved, miracles could happen. All of us see that war is indeed a serious proposition and could be unavoidable, but it also could be avoidable," Mr. Moussa said.

He said he would like to see U.N. arms inspectors given some more time to carry on their work in Iraq. Mr. Moussa welcomed Secretary Powell's statement that Washington is willing to allow time for Security Council members to study the U.N. chief inspector's report.

Responding to questions posed by Arab journalists, Mr. Moussa noted that he believes in a strong Arab-American relationship. He said this requires an understanding of how to deal with the Iraqi crisis and also a just solution to the Palestinian problem.

Mr. Moussa said more Arab assistance to the Palestinians is needed in the ongoing crisis, and diplomatic pressure must be kept on the Israeli government to change its policies. He said he is pleased that in Davos, Secretary Powell repeated the Bush administration's commitment to work for a viable Palestinian state by 2005.