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Blair, Aznar Call for New UN Resolution if Iraq Fails to Disarm - 2003-01-31

On his way to meet with U.S. President George W. Bush at Camp David this weekend to discuss the Iraq crisis, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, stopped in Madrid to meet with his Spanish counterpart, José María Aznar. Both leaders agreed that the any force used to disarm Iraq should be taken with the consent of the U.N.

As if to underline Britain and Spain's strong support of President Bush's policy on the disarmament of Iraq, British Prime Minister Tony Blair made a point of stopping in Madrid to consult with the Spanish Prime Minister before heading for Washington.

The two leaders met for barely an hour at Mr. Aznar's official residence of Moncloa palace Thursday evening. At a press conference held afterwards they expressed their common position on the Iraq crisis. They agreed that the use of force to disarm Iraqi President Sadam Hussein of weapons of mass destruction should be taken, in Mr. Blair's words "with the full authority and consent of the United Nations".

Mr. Blair also stressed that it was vital for the U.N. resolutions on Iraq to be carried out so that North Korea, which is believed to be trying to make nuclear weapons, take U.N. prohibitions seriously.

Spain's Prime Minister Aznar went so far as to call for a second U.N. resolution authorizing force should the current mission of U.N. inspectors in Iraq fail. Nevertheless, Mr. Blair evaded a question about whether such a resolution was needed before a U.S.-led coalition attack.

Recent polls in Spain and Britain are strongly against any preventive attack on Iraq without U.N. approval. And both Prime Ministers stressed that the Inspectors' mission is not to find weapons of mass destruction but to assure that they have been destroyed.

The Spanish and British leaders, who have been friends for a number of years now, met after the release of a statement in support of U.S. policy on Iraq signed by themselves and the leaders of Portugal, Italy, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Denmark.