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'Military Action against Iraq Should be Directed by UN,' says Canadian FM - 2003-01-30

Secretary of State Colin Powell has discussed Iraq with Canadian Foreign Minister William Graham, who said he hoped any military action to disarm Saddam Hussein will be within the U.N. framework.

The government of Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien has not said whether it would support a U.S.-led war against Iraq in the absence of a second U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing such action. In a talk with reporters after meeting Secretary Powell, Canadian Foreign Minister William Graham stressed his country's strong preference that military action, if it proves necessary, should come within a coalition "directed by the United Nations."

Mr. Graham said that, in taking the issue to the United Nations last September, the Bush administration acknowledged that its long-term security interests are best served by working multi-laterally in coalitions. He said if one state acts by itself, it incurs the responsibility by itself, and "risks consequences" in a complicated area like the Middle East that could be serious.

"The best way to insure the security of the world and to insure the security of the United States is through the United Nations, because, ultimately, that is the world saying to Saddam Hussein, 'You have failed to act. Here are the consequences, and we are delivering them.' This is not the United States acting unilaterally or arbitrarily. This is a world judgment," he said.

For his part, Secretary Powell said, he gave Mr. Graham a preview of the presentation he makes to the U.N. Security Council next Wednesday, which U.S. officials say will include new intelligence information, and buttress the administration's case that Iraq has no intention of disarming.

Mr. Powell downplayed any notion of a rift with Canada, stressing that country's strong backing for last November's Security Council Resolution 1441, which gave Iraq a last chance to cooperate with U.N. inspectors.

"I think Canada is committed to the disarmament of Iraq of weapons of mass destruction," Mr. Powell said. "And, we all hope it can be done with the full support of the international community. And we will stay in close touch in the weeks ahead to make sure that we have a complete understanding of each other's views."

Mr. Powell said he will make the February 5 U.N. presentation, and then begin consultations with other governments "to see what action the Security Council chooses to take."

His spokesman, Richard Boucher, said it is clear Iraq is not complying with Resolution 1441, and is actively hiding weapons. He said there was no time-table for deciding what to do next, but spoke of a "diplomatic window of a couple of weeks."