Editor's Note: We have seen, with dreary regularity, the Bush administration resort to naked threats when they find the sledding towards their goals roughened. The following is yet another example of this ham-fisted breed of 'diplomacy.' - wrp
France, Russia Vow No Iraq War Approval
The Associated Press
Wednesday 5 March 2003
PARIS (AP) -- The foreign ministers of France, Germany and Russia said Wednesday they will ``not allow'' passage of an American-backed U.N. resolution to authorize war against Iraq -- deepening the trans-Atlantic split between Washington and two of its closest allies.
The three ministers, whose countries have led opposition to war on Iraq, held an emergency meeting in Paris. Reacting to their comments, American officials expressed confidence that Russia and France, in the end, will not veto the resolution, which could open the door for military action.
"We will not allow a resolution to pass that authorizes resorting to force,'' France's Dominique de Villepin said at a press conference alongside his Russian and German counterparts. "Russia and France, as permanent members of the Security Council, will assume their full responsibilities on this point.''
When asked whether France would use its veto in the council as Russia has suggested it might do, de Villepin said, "We will take all our responsibilities. We are in total agreement with the Russians.''
France believes that the U.S.-backed resolution to pave the way for war would currently get no more than four votes in the U.N. Security Council -- five short of the number needed to pass. That would spare France the need to use its veto.
In Washington, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer cautioned against jumping to conclusions about the outcome of any U.N. debate on a second resolution on Iraq.
"You will continue to hear various statements by various people around the world,'' Fleischer said, adding that President Bush was "confident in the end of the ultimate outcome'' of the resolution debate.
"What you are observing is a fluid situation as different nations make different statements that all lead up to the one day which is the most important day, which is the day of the vote,'' Fleischer said.
At his daily briefing Fleischer said there was "no final word from any nation'' and that diplomacy was going on in many capitals.
At the United Nations, reporters asked U.S. deputy ambassador Richard Williamson how Washington could get Security Council approval with two vetoes. "I don't think they used that word, did they?'' Williamson replied.
Britain, the United States and Spain have proposed a draft resolution that says Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has missed his final opportunity to disarm. Other Security Council members, led by France, say the U.N. inspections are working and want the inspectors to be given more time to hunt for banned chemical and biological arms.
On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov suggested Russia could veto the U.S.-backed resolution. Ivanov also said his country was unlikely to abstain in any Security Council vote on Iraq. "Russia will not support any decision that would directly or indirectly open the way to war with Iraq,'' he was quoted as saying by the British Broadcasting Corp.
The Russian diplomat has been shuttling between European capitals to discuss the Iraq crisis, meeting in London earlier Wednesday with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The three ministers said that inspections were producing results and that weapons experts should be given more time to search for arms that Iraq is not supposed to have, as set out in U.N. resolution 1441.
"We see there is progress,'' German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said. "I do not see personally how we can stop the process of resolution 1441 and resort to war.''
De Villepin said he believes the results of inspections "were more and more encouraging,'' citing the destruction of Iraqi missiles, information being received about biological and chemical agents and interviews with scientists.
But de Villepin also said Iraq needs to cooperate "more actively'' with inspections.
"The inspections cannot go on forever,'' he said.
The French foreign minister also set out a framework for giving inspectors more muscle, including detailed measures to gage whether inspections are making progress.
De Villepin added that he believes a war in Iraq would increase tensions in the Middle East, create instability and boost the risk of terrorism. He also voiced France's objection to any unilateral U.S. war on Iraq.
"The United Nations is indispensable,'' de Villepin said. "The United Nations is the authority of legitimacy for the international community.''
"We can only achieve peace together. And to do it, we would need the United Nations -- to organize, to bring their legitimacy to the action of the international community in Iraq.''
Secretary of State Colin Powell told Russia's state-controlled Channel One television in an interview aired late Tuesday that the United States was prepared to lead a war against Iraq with or without the consent of the United Nations.
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U.S. Warns Russia Over U.N. Veto on Iraq
ABCNews.com | The Associated Press
Wednesday 5 March 2003
U.S. Warns Russia That a U.N. Veto on Iraq Could Damage Relations With Washington
The United States on Wednesday warned that Russia could pay the price of damaged relations with Washington if it vetoes a U.N. Security Council resolution paving the way for war against Iraq.
U.S. Ambassador Alexander Vershbow met with Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Mamedov, primarily to discuss Russian-U.S. cooperation in space after the Columbia shuttle disaster, but they also discussed Iraq.
"Of course, the issue of Iraq came up," said a senior U.S. diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. "There could be costs attached to a (Russian) veto."
The comments came as the foreign minister of Russia, France and Germany the top opponents to war on Iraq said they would "not allow" passage of the U.S.-backed resolution. They did not specify whether Russia and France would use their veto powers on the Security Council.
Russia has been walking a fine line in the Iraqi crisis, opposing moves toward war but appearing to take pains to avoid a falling-out with Washington after carefully cultivating bilateral ties.
The meeting Wednesday suggested that Washington was losing patience with Moscow's diplomatic dance. A Russian Foreign Ministry statement gave no hint of a U.S. ultimatum and said instead that the meeting included a discussion of ways to bring closer the two countries' views on solving the Iraqi crisis in the U.N. Security Council.
Differences over Iraq "should not have a restraining or, worse, a negative influence on the general development of the Russian-American partnership," the ministry said.
The United States, Britain and Spain are pushing a resolution that would say Iraq has missed its last chance to meet U.N. disarmament demands, opening the way to military action. Russia has joined France and Germany in insisting that weapons inspectors be given more time to complete their work.
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov shuttled between European capitals meeting Wednesday with Bush's closest ally on Iraq, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and then flying to Paris for talks with French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin and German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer.
The three ministers said they would block passage of a U.N. resolution authorizing force against Baghdad. On Tuesday, Ivanov said Russia would be unlikely to abstain in a U.N. vote that would allow for a war against Iraq and warned it could use its veto.
The Moscow meeting also followed a Russian television interview with Secretary of State Colin Powell, who said the United States was prepared to lead a war against Iraq with or without U.N. consent.
The interview, broadcast late Tuesday on state-controlled Channel One, appeared to be part of a U.S. attempt to get its message straight to the Russian public as a possible Security Council vote nears.
Powell explained that Russia and the United States were divided over the usefulness of further weapons inspections and the scale of the threat Iraq poses to the world.
Powell said that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein "must be disarmed ... and he will be disarmed peacefully, hopefully, but if necessary, the United States is prepared to lead a coalition of the willing, a coalition of willing nations, either under U.N. authority or without U.N. authority, if that turns out to be the case, in order to disarm this man."
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