- LONDON (Reuters) - The United
States appeared further isolated on Monday in its attitude toward Baghdad,
with most of the world saying U.N. arms inspectors needed more time to
search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
- Even Foreign Secretary Jack Straw of staunch U.S. ally
Britain, while condemning Iraq's attitude to the inspectors as "a
charade," said the continuation of the searches was up to the U.N.
Security Council -- not any one state.
- Following reports from the U.N. arms chiefs to the Security
Council on their first two months of operation, the United States said
Baghdad was not cooperating with the inspectors or complying with U.N.
resolutions to give up weapons of mass destruction Washington says it possesses.
- Germany, France, Russia and Canada said the arms experts
needed more time, as did Secretary-General Amr Moussa of the 22-member
Arab League and states neighboring Iraq.
- U.N. weapons chief Hans Blix said Iraq had cooperated
in opening sites for inspection but had fallen short of filling in gaps
in last month's declaration on its weapons programs. He said further moves
were up to the Security Council.
- The head of the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency, Mohamed
ElBaradei, told the Security Council two months of inspections had produced
no evidence Iraq was reviving its nuclear arms program, dismantled by the
U.N. in the 1990s. He sought more time.
- While Straw called Baghdad's performance "a charade,"
he hedged his bets on how soon a U.S.-led assault on Iraq might go ahead.
- He said after a meeting of European Union foreign ministers
in Brussels: "The decision about continuation of inspections is a
matter for the Security Council, not for any one state."
- U.S. HAS THREATENED WAR
- The United States has threatened a unilateral attack
on Iraq if Baghdad does not give up biological, chemical and nuclear weaponry
which Iraq says it does not have.
- Baghdad said it had complied with U.N. demands.
- Secretary of State Colin Powell did not mince his words:
"Iraq's time for choosing peaceful disarmament is fast coming to an
- He gave no hint on when a decision to go to war might
come. He said Washington would consult its allies over the next week and
after that, it would decide what to do.
- "The issue is not how much more time the inspectors
need to search in the dark. It is how much more time Iraq should be given
to turn on the lights and to come clean. And the answer is not much more
time," Powell said.
- Britain has already sent troops to the Gulf to join U.S.
forces there, diverging from European partners Germany and France and other
international heavyweights such as Russia and China.
- German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French President
Jacques Chirac, whose opinions have drawn fire from Secretary of Defense
Donald Rumsfeld, said the arms inspectors needed more time.
- "We are of the opinion...that the inspectors will
get more time for their work," Schroeder told journalists in Berlin.
- At a later news conference after meeting Brazilian President
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Schroeder said: "We are both of the opinion
that nobody has the right to undertake any kind of action without a decision
of the Security Council."
- Chirac, who discussed the issue with Schroeder by phone,
echoed his call and urged Baghdad to give the inspectors "full and
- Germany's Joschka Fischer, also attending the EU foreign
ministers' meeting in Brussels, said: "War is no alternative. I think
one can conclude that the inspectors are doing a great job which should
definitely go on."
- The EU meeting produced a statement seeking more time
for the inspectors in what officials said was a "unified position."
Diplomats said the declaration papered over cracks that would inevitably
emerge if Washington went to war.
- RUSSIA SAYS NEW RESOLUTION NOT NEEDED
- In Moscow, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov
said the reports of the arms inspectors were only intended to provide a
preliminary survey of their work and set basic outlines for the future.
- "At the present time, there is no need to adopt
new (U.N.) resolutions on Iraq," he was quoted by Itar-Tass news agency
- The Arab League's Amr Moussa said in an interview with
Reuters in Berlin that the arms inspectors should get as much time as they
needed, three months or more if necessary, to check for banned weaponry.
- "There should be no outer limit for peace. War is
a very serious and dangerous proposition, you have to avoid it by all means
up until it is the only necessity and one the whole world community decides.
- "So if they need more time, they should be given
more time. Why should we be in a hurry to wage war?" he asked on the
eve of talks with the German foreign minister.
- Prime Minister Abdullah Gul of Turkey, a close NATO ally
of the United States and a key to any war with Iraq, said conflict with
Baghdad could spell economic and human disaster and called for increased
efforts to avert it.
- In New Delhi, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi
urged Baghdad to cooperate fully with the weapons inspectors, but said
all countries bordering Iraq opposed a U.S.-led invasion.
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