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Intense Diplomacy Continues Over Iraq UN Resolution - 2003-03-12


It's been another day of intense diplomacy both in Washington and at the United Nations aimed at securing passage of a draft U.N. resolution that would authorize war against Iraq for its failure to fully disarm.

Britain is now outlining a set of specific steps President Saddam Hussein would have to take in order to avoid military action.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair is facing increasing political pressure within his own Labor party not to go along with a U.S. led attack on Iraq if the United Nations fails to authorize it.

In an effort to gain support within the Security Council, Mr. Blair has now laid down a list of six specific conditions Iraqi President Saddam Hussein would have to meet in order to avoid attack. They include a demand that the Iraqi leader appear on television and renounce weapons of mass destruction.

"What we are looking at is whether we can set out a very clear set of tests for Iraq to meet in order to demonstrate that it is in full compliance, not partial compliance, but full compliance," he said.

It was part of what the Bush administration calls the final steps of diplomacy the United States and Britain are taking to convince more members of the 15-nation Security Council, beyond just Bulgaria and Spain to support a new resolution declaring Baghdad has failed to disarm and must now face the consequences. France and Russia have both threatened vetoes.

With diplomacy in high gear at the United Nations, Britain's U.N. ambassador Jeremy Greenstock headed into a late day Security Council meeting where he was presenting the proposal for discussion.

"I would like to use that opportunity to explain to the council what our proposals are on the six tests which Prime Minister Blair spoke about in London," he said.

One option under discussion is extending a proposed March 17 deadline for Baghdad to begin demonstrating a full commitment to disarming. But with the White House facing little support in the Security Council for war and appearing increasingly impatient with the pace of U.N. diplomacy, spokesman Ari Fleischer would not say whether President Bush would even agree to that.

"The president has not said what course of action would take place beyond that. If the president were to make the decision to authorize the use of force, that would be something the president would discuss with the American people," he said.

Again Wednesday, the president spent the day out of sight, making more calls to world leaders in an effort to gain support for the resolution even as his government issued unusually direct criticism of close ally France for threatening a veto. A final vote on whether the United Nations authorizes war on Iraq is expected before Saturday.