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No UN Progress on Iraqi Disarmament Compromise - 2003-03-14


Efforts to formulate a compromise on Iraqi disarmament are reported to be at a stalemate. Diplomats at the United Nations say chances now appear slim that agreement can be reached among the members of the security council. Attention now turns to a weekend meeting in the Azores islands. Privately and publicly, U.N.-based diplomats are now holding out little hope that members of the Security Council can agree on a common approach to disarming Iraq.

In an interview with VOA, Munir Akram, Pakistan's ambassador to the United Nations, said council members are deadlocked. Pakistan is one of six uncommitted security council member states. "I would say that we are at an impasse in the Council," said Mr. Akram. "Several approaches have been tried, as you know, and have not worked. Even the approach attempted by some of the six [uncommitted members] faces some difficulties in terms of acceptability, but also in terms of conceptualization."

In the latest effort, the six uncommitted council member states tried hammering out a new compromise. The proposal, first floated by Chile, would give Iraq more time to disarm and lays out criteria for determining Iraq's compliance. The proposal was immediately dismissed by the United States, which favors only a very short time frame for Iraq to disarm or face military force.

Mr. Akram said the situation is now at what he called an "endgame" and that he sees little chance the Security Council will reach any last minute agreement. "So, for all these reasons, it's not going to be easy, and I'm not very optimistic that the council could find a way forward," Mr. Akram added.

Eyes will turn to the Azores islands off the coast of Portugal this weekend, where the leaders of the United States, Spain, and Britain will meet. The leaders are expected to discuss whether to push for a vote on the U.S.-backed resolution in the security council or withdraw it from consideration. France and Russia are leading the opposition to the new resolution, saying Iraq should get more time to disarm before military force is used.