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Britain Blames France for Failed Diplomatic Efforts With Iraq - 2003-03-17

Britain has blamed France directly for the breakdown in efforts to convince Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to disarm, and says there are now only two options: either Mr. Hussein will resign or he will be disarmed by force.

Britain's deputy prime minister, John Prescott, came out of an emergency cabinet meeting with a scathing rebuke of France. "We deeply regret that the French intransigence and the Iraqi non-compliance have left us with no option but to bring discussions on our draft resolution to an end," he said.

Mr. Prescott said Prime Minister Tony Blair will lead a debate on Iraq in parliament Tuesday, in which he is expected to face strong criticism from many members of his own party for his decision to use force against Iraq without specific U.N. approval.

He said this would not have been necessary if the Security Council had been more firm. "The prime minister told the cabinet just now that if the international community had stayed united and firm in its determination to implement Resolution 1441, we could have disarmed Saddam without a shot being fired," Mr. Precott said.

The British deputy prime minister said the only thing that can stop a war now is the resignation of Saddam Hussein, something Iraq says he will never do.