U.S. taken to task over language in resolution draft

Thursday, October 31, 2002

UNITED NATIONS -- The United States was taken to task Wednesday for its draft resolution on Iraq with a majority of Security Council members opposing language which could authorize Washington to launch a war in Baghdad.

Although the Bush administration has said it expects a swift end to the seven weeks of negotiations, it was clear Wednesday that staunch opposition from powerful players such as Russia, France and China would mean more time, and possibly more compromise, to win support for the draft.

"We have consistently found that we need more time ... than we originally sought," said British Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock, whose country is a co-sponsor of the U.S. draft resolution.

Diplomats said it would take several days of consultations in capitals before the council could reconvene.

In Washington, Secretary of State Colin Powell said debate would only be concluded "towards the end of next week."

Even after a vote, Powell told National Public Radio that it would be months before returning inspectors would be able to assess Iraq's compliance. He spent the day on the telephone with foreign ministers from Russia, Britain and France.

The five veto-holding members of the council are deeply split over Iraq. The United States and Britain want the Security Council to approve a resolution threatening Saddam Hussein with retaliation if he fails to comply with a tough new inspections regime.

Russia, France and China want to give Iraq a chance to cooperate before discussing any consequences.

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