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Bush, Powell push for Iraq resolution

President wants U.N. action within 'days and weeks'

President Bush speaks at a meeting of Central and West African leaders at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, Secretary of State Colin Powell at his side.
President Bush speaks at a meeting of Central and West African leaders at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, Secretary of State Colin Powell at his side.  


NEW YORK (CNN) -- The United Nations must act quickly on Iraq to avoid unilateral U.S. action, U.S. President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell said Friday.

At an appearance Friday morning, Bush -- who warned the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday that it must make Iraq comply with its resolutions or the United States would act -- said he expected the U.N. action within "days and weeks, not months and years."

He said "there will be deadlines" in any new U.N. resolutions, but he was "highly doubtful" Iraqi President Saddam Hussein would adhere to them.

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"He's had 11 years to meet the demands," the president said. "For 11 long years, he has basically told the United Nations and the world he doesn't care."

Powell said the United States would make clear that the credibility of the United Nations is on the line.

Powell is in New York to press members of the U.N. Security Council for tough new resolutions requiring Iraq to end its weapons program.

"This time there have to be consequences for the failure to abide by those resolutions," Powell said during a round of television interviews.

In Washington, senior senators discussed ways in which Congress could support the president's stance on Iraq and strengthen the administration's hand with the international community and at the United Nations.

A variety of different approaches, ranging from an immediate vote of support to delaying any action until after the United Nations has taken a stance, were put forward from both sides of the aisle. (Full Story)

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Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri said Bush's address to the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday was "a lot of anti-Iraq propaganda" and contained no evidence Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.

"He (President Bush) rehashed a lot of anti-Iraq propaganda," Sabri told reporters, "He has no evidence at all; ... the American administration used such accusations against Iraq to justify their killing of the Iraqi population."

Another member of the Iraqi leadership, Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, said he could not give the final position of the Iraqi government but repeated that the return of arms inspectors will not help.

"I will not give a final position -- yes or no -- to any of your questions," Aziz told reporters. "There is a leadership in Iraq. And when it decides and if I'm authorized I will speak."

Sabri said it is Iraq that is calling for the implementation of U.N. resolutions, echoing a key theme of Bush's speech.

"We are calling for the implementation of the Security Council's resolutions, if the resolutions are implemented, there is no problem with U.N. inspectors; we would like to admit these inspectors within the Security Council resolutions. If they are to come back, they have to come back within the U.N. agenda, not U.S agenda."

And he described accusations that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction "lies."

"These are lies, they have no evidence whatsoever that we have such weapons. Iraq has no such weapons. The U.S. failed to present one (piece of) evidence and UNSCOM, the last defunct U.N. Special Commission, could not prove anything to the truth of those accusations."

'Lost legitimacy'

In his address to the United Nations on Thursday, Bush said: "The purposes of the United States should not be doubted. The Security Council resolutions will be enforced. The just demands of peace and security will be met -- or action will be unavoidable, and a regime that has lost its legitimacy will also lose its power."

Scott Ritter, former chief of the U.N. weapons inspection team, provided the most vocal opposition to the administration's words, while defending himself against charges that he is off-base.

"I'm not saying Iraq doesn't pose a threat," Ritter said on CNN's "American Morning." "I'm saying it has not been demonstrated to pose a threat worthy of war at this time. Bush needs to make the case."

Ritter is a strong advocate for the return of weapons inspectors, saying they are the only real way to determine the status of Iraqi weapons programs.

"I've never once said I know what is happening in Iraq today," said the one-time U.S. Marine intelligence officer. "What I'm saying is no one knows what is happening in Iraq today and we can't go to war based upon ignorance. Get the inspectors back in."

Sen. Joseph Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN on Friday that the president challenged "the United Nations to be more than a paper tiger" in his speech Thursday.

"It was to say to the United Nations, 'By your standards ... you have not done your job relative to Saddam Hussein,'" said Biden, D-Delaware.

The senator said officials were privy to "more intelligence information" that he said was "more appropriate at a closed setting than a public setting." Biden also said he expected Bush would "get whatever authority he seeks" once he makes public more detail of his plan.

Powell said while the United States is trying to work with the United Nations, U.S. policy remains that the government of Saddam Hussein should be replaced.

"At the same time, the United States is not walking away from its objective that regime change is the best way to solve this problem," Powell said.

Sen. Rick Santorum, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he believes "some support within the international community" is building for action against Iraq.

"That is a positive sign," the Pennsylvania Republican said.



 
 
 
 


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