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U.S. begins push for U.N. Iraq resolution

From Andrea Koppel (CNN Washington Bureau)

Secretary of State Colin Powell addresses the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday.
Secretary of State Colin Powell addresses the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Bush administration has begun to seriously negotiate "more specific text" in a proposed U.N. resolution on Iraq, talking with the four other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, a senior State Department official told CNN Thursday.

Any of the permanent member of the Security Council -- the United States, Britain, Russia, China and France -- can veto any resolution.

The news came as White House and congressional officials said they had moved closer on the wording of a proposed resolution on Iraq to be voted on by the U.S. Congress. (Full Story)

Secretary of State Colin Powell, speaking Thursday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he spoke in the past day to the foreign ministers of France, Russia and China, as well as with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He said there are many points of agreement among the permanent members, but that there are issues that still need to be worked out.

Powell also said he is sending a senior envoy to Paris and Moscow to lobby for support of the resolution.

Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman will be accompanied by a British official, a Western diplomat told CNN.

The United States and Great Britain have agreed on what the resolution should look like, he said. He did not give details, but he told senators that the Security Council must allow action to be taken if Iraq continues to violate resolutions. Contrary to years past, he said, there must be "hard consequences" for Iraqi noncompliance.

Underscoring that message and leaving open the possibility of unilateral action by the United States against Iraq, Vice President Dick Cheney said Thursday that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein must comply with U.N. resolutions "or action will be unavoidable."

Cheney spoke the day after President Bush's national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said Saddam has sheltered al Qaeda terrorists in Baghdad and helped train some in chemical weapons development -- information she said has been gleaned from captives in the ongoing war on terrorism. (Full Story)

Vice President Dick Cheney told an audience Thursday that
Vice President Dick Cheney told an audience Thursday that "action will be unavoidable" if Iraq does not comply with U.N. resolutions.

Sources said Wednesday that the administration has opted in favor of a brief resolution that focuses on demands for Iraqi disarmament and consequences rather than a lengthy resolution listing all of that nation's alleged violations. (Full Story)

A final draft of the resolution probably will not be presented to the Security Council before chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix holds talks with Iraqi officials in Vienna next week, the sources said.

It was unclear if the resolution would spell out a specific timetable for Iraqi compliance. Blix has said it will take weapons inspectors four months to get up and running. However, the Bush administration expects inspectors to test Iraqi compliance as soon as they arrive in the country.

The bottom line, as the U.S. sees it, is that the timeline during which Iraq would have to prove disarmament would be relatively short.

A Chinese diplomat told CNN his country has no problem with the idea of a new Security Council resolution to provide political support to Blix. But the diplomat said China would carefully study any wording on the issue of military force before approving the text.

France has drawn up its own text, diplomats confirmed, but it has not been formally circulated even among the permanent five members of the Security Council. One diplomat said the French paper "is part of their negotiating approach, rather than a viable draft."

The French have favored a two-stage approach -- one resolution providing political backing for the inspectors, and a second, spelling out consequences if Iraq does not comply.

A council diplomat emphasized that the resolution would have to clearly show that the inspectors can do their jobs, "which means access without obstruction, clearly spelled out," and a way to judge very early on that Baghdad is complying with this requirement.

Then there is the "or else," the diplomat said, referring to the threat of force. "It's important that Saddam Hussein knows he has got to cooperate or there will be trouble."

The next step after negotiations are complete with permanent members of the Security Council will be for the United States to present the resolution to the council's other 10 members.

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