Assad: Iraq war to kill millions; Sources: U.S. ready to compromise on U.N. resolution
The United States has backed down from its demand that a new U.N. resolution must authorize military force if Baghdad fails to cooperate with weapons inspectors, diplomats told The Associated Press on Thursday.
Instead, the United States is now floating a compromise which would give inspectors a chance to test Iraq's will to cooperate on the ground. If Iraq then failed to disarm, the Bush administration would agree to return to the Security Council for further debate and possibly another resolution authorizing action.
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said he believes there are now "favorable conditions" for council agreement on a resolution that will lead to the quick return of inspectors. The new compromise also drops tough wording explicitly threatening Iraq upfront, although the diplomats, told AP a threat of consequences will be implied.
The diplomats said France was studying the new offer amid a flurry of diplomatic activity aimed at solving an impasse among the Security Council powers on Iraq.
Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Thursday there was no justification for a U.S. war on Iraq, adding it would kill millions of people and plunge the whole Middle East into uncertainty.
Assad told Reuters: "What America did in Afghanistan is not applicable to Iraq. Afghanistan was a piece of cake compared with Iraq."
Expressing strong opposition to a war to oust Saddam Hussein, the Syrian leader said: "You cannot change the regime without killing millions of Iraqis."
According to Assad, such a conflict would have a huge regional impact including a flood of refugees, poverty and damage to the economies of all countries in the area.
He added: "Our concern is about entering the unknown. Even the United States does not know how a war in Iraq is going to end." (Albawaba.com)
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