NATO members have declared themselves united in backing U.N. attempts disarm Iraq, but the 19-nation defense alliance stopped short of promising to go to war over it.
In Prague, NATO allies issued a communique on Thursday saying they "were united in their commitment to take effective action to assist and support the efforts of the U.N. to ensure full and immediate compliance by Iraq" with the U.N. Security Council resolution demanding Iraqi disarmament.
"We recall that the Security Council in this resolution has warned Iraq it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violation of its obligations," NATO said in its statement.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in St. Petersburg on Friday afternoon. Later in the day, the Russian President was expected to meet his US counterpart George W. Bush in the town of Pushkin near St. Petersburg
Also, Secretary of State Colin Powell said the United States could fight Iraq in the summer, especially in the cool of the night, if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein waits until the winter passes and then obstructs U.N. weapons inspections.
In an interview with CBS News from Prague, Powell said winter was the ideal time for a military operation but the United States would not be bound by any calendar.
"Many battles have been fought in the heat of summer, and the United States armed forces are very effective at night, when it is much cooler," Powell said.
"So if Saddam Hussein or anyone else thinks that once this ideal window passes they are safe for another year I suggest that may be false hope," he added. (Albawaba.com)