UN Security Council set to approve Iraq resolution
The United States and France came to a last-minute agreement on a tough U.N. resolution giving Iraq a last chance to disarm or face war.
After talks on Thursday, U.S. officials dropped a controversial phrase about who would declare Iraq in "further material breach" -- words that could trigger war. France then signed on to the text, diplomats said, according to Reuters.
They said the deal came after French President Jacques Chirac spoke to President Bush on outstanding issues. Chirac's spokeswoman, Catherine Colonna, said the French leader hoped a "consensus could be reached" when the council voted.
But Russia, whose president, Vladimir Putin, also spoke to Bush on Thursday, has not signaled whether it would vote in favor or abstain.
"I'm optimistic we'll get the resolution vote tomorrow," Bush told a news conference. "When his resolution passes, I will be able to say that the United Nations has recognized the threat and now we're going to work together to disarm him," he said.
The UN Security Council is preparing to vote on the US proposal. The Security Council vote was set for 10 am (1500 GMT) Friday.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday a showdown with Saddam Hussein on hidden chemical and biological weapons and a nuclear program could be months away as inspections determine whether Iraq is disarming.
Powell, speaking to AP, expressed confidence that the United Nations would support U.S. action. He said the pace of searching for weapons would be set by the chief U.N. weapons inspector, Hans Blix, and Mohamed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Declining to predict whether the Iraqi president would cooperate under U.N. threat of serious consequences, Powell said: "I gave up years ago speculating what Hussein may or may not do."
"Iraq has been a problem for years, and it has finally come to a head," Powell said. "A decision is in Saddam Hussein's hands," he conveyed. "What we are looking for in the days and weeks ahead is whether or not the Iraqis are going to cooperate in a way in which they have not cooperated in the past."
"If they don't intend to cooperate, I think that will become obvious rather soon, and the U.N. will have to make its judgment as to whether they want to participate in a charade with the Iraqi government or whether they want immediately to convene to see if something else should be done," Powell said. (Albawaba.com)
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