Bush 'disappointed' by NATO stalemate
France, Russia, Germany unite on Iraq
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush pronounced himself "disappointed" after France, Germany and Belgium blocked a U.S.-led effort to begin planning to defend Turkey in the event of a war with Iraq.
"I don't understand that decision. It affects the alliance in a negative way ... when you are not able to make a statement of mutual defense," Bush said.
Turkey, the alliance's only Muslim member, immediately requested emergency consultations under NATO's defense treaty, believed to be the first time a member state has ever done so.
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld criticized the three nations for not supporting the U.S. initiative, saying they were preventing "NATO from fulfilling its obligation" to a member.
Calling Turkey an "important ally," he said the delay will not affect any possible war with Iraq because the United States is prepared to move forward even without full NATO support.
U.S. prepared to act unilaterally
Rumsfeld said the United States will go ahead with plans to boost Turkey's defenses unilaterally. (Full story)
France, Germany and Belgium said they fear that sending hardware to Turkey will hurt efforts to resolve the Iraq standoff peacefully. Their objections prompted the emergency NATO session Monday.
Also Monday, France, Russia and Germany issued a joint statement on Iraq that calls for beefed up U.N. weapons inspections to ensure Saddam Hussein's speedy disarmament of weapons of mass destruction and urges that the inspectors be given more time to do their jobs.
"Let me say that nothing today justifies a war," French President Jacques Chirac told reporters. "I think that that part of the world really doesn't need one more war."
The three nations "favor the continuation of inspections and a substantial strengthening of the human and technical capacity by all means," Chirac said, reading from a joint statement. (Statement text)
But, he added, "Iraq needs to offer active cooperation to the inspectors, and Iraq must, in that area, shoulder its responsibilities."
Iraq insists it has done so, but U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell disputes that, and President Bush has threatened to lead a "coalition of the willing" if he is not able to gain U.N. approval for using force against Iraq.
In an apparent allusion to Bush's threat to act without U.N. blessing, Chirac warned, "All solutions must be based upon the charter of the United Nations."
Chirac, standing alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin, said he was not convinced. "As things now stand, as far as I know, there is absolutely no clear-cut proof in that area," he said. (Full story)
Putin discussed the matter of Iraq with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Sunday.
Both France and Russia have vetoes on the U.N. Security Council
Confusion over spy plane agreement
Iraq said Monday that it would allow the United Nations to use American U-2 spy planes for aerial surveillance without conditions -- but shortly after, Saddam said coalition forces patrolling the "no-fly" zones should not launch raids on Iraq during the U-2 surveillance flights.
According to state-run television, Saddam said the American planes could take pictures of Iraq's air-defense system that could be used by U.S. and British forces. By agreeing to the use of U-2 aircraft, Iraq will have capitulated to what he called U.S. and British aggression, he said, if the two nations were to open fire in the no-fly zones during the surveillance flights.
Iraqi and coalition forces frequently spar in the no-fly zones.
The no-fly zones, designed to protect Kurds in northern Iraq and Shiites in the south from Saddam's regime, were established by the United States and Britain after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Iraqi officials insist the zones violate the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and refuse to recognize them.
There was no immediate comment on Saddam's demand from the United Nations, the United States or Britain.