Short of attacking Iraq, Saudis will cooperate with U.N. effort

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud said Thursday action against Iraq should wait until the war on terrorism is finished because it could fuel the terrorists' cause.

The prince also said Saudi Arabia won't participate in any attack on Iraq, but short of that would cooperate in a U.N. effort to address concerns about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Saud said any military action against Iraq should be postponed until terror networks are destroyed.

Otherwise, "terrorists will be able to utilize the war on Iraq to add to the number of issues they will raise against the United States and the West," the prince said in an interview with The Associated Press.

The Bush administration has sought to link its drive to remove Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to the war on terror, saying he could give weapons of mass destruction to terrorists and intimating that some al-Qaida figures have passed through Iraqi territory.

Saud spoke as speculation is mounting about possible U.S. military action against Iraq. The U.N. Security Council is debating whether to adopt a new resolution to toughen U.N. weapons inspections following the Iraqi government's decision to allow inspectors to return after nearly four years.

'Obligated to cooperate'

Saud said that if the new resolution is based on Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, "then every country is obligated to cooperate with the United Nations in this."

"This does not mean that every nation is obligated to fight or to use its territory in the conflict but to follow the objective of the resolution by the United Nations," added Saud.

Chapter 7 of the charter authorizes the collective use of force, under the Security Council, in cases of threats to international peace and security.

When asked if Saudi Arabia would send a clear "no" to the United Nations if it came to the use of its territory in a strike against Iraq, Saud said:

"We are not going to join in the military action, but if the United Nations takes a decision in this we will cooperate with it."