Iraq crisis: Bush gives diplomacy ''weeks not months''
U.S. President Bush said Thursday he would give diplomacy "weeks not months" and said the United States would welcome Saddam Hussein going into exile.
"For the sake of peace, this issue must be resolved," the U.S. leader said amid intensified administration efforts to increase pressure on U.S. allies to disarm Saddam.
Bush met with Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi. In an Oval Office session with the Italian leader, Bush put allies on notice that he will not wait long to act against Saddam, even if the United Nations refuses to back his actions. "This is a matter of weeks not months," Bush said.
Bush met later with Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, who is trying to rally nations behind a plan to offer Saddam exile. Bush said he was open to the idea.
"Should he choose to leave the country, along with other henchmen who have tortured ... Iraqi people, we will welcome that, of course," Bush said. He said, however, that the U.S. would continue to insist that Iraq disarm, regardless of who governs the nation.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told reporters outside the White House that he had not spoken to Bush about exile, AP reported.
Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar said exile did not come up. Saudi officials do not believe exile is possible, in part because other Iraqi senior leadership would not allow it, he added. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)