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Baghdad expected to destroy missiles; France praises move

Turkey's parliament could vote on U.S. bases Saturday

Turkish soldiers assigned to guard the port in Iskenderun where U.S. military vehicles and supplies are unloaded build a sandbag-reinforced position.
Turkish soldiers assigned to guard the port in Iskenderun where U.S. military vehicles and supplies are unloaded build a sandbag-reinforced position.

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PERSPECTIVE

TIME.com
Senior Editor Tony Karon writes in an article titled "President Bush States His Iraq War Aims":


"President Bush's war-aims speech is unlikely to convince European and Arab skeptics, who don't share his optimism on a post-Saddam Iraq. But what the speech does do is send the unmistakable message that the President has made up his mind to invade Iraq, and that could force some of the skeptics to follow Turkey's lead by making their peace with a war they don't want.

"The Turkish example, of course, is a reminder that the Bush administration need not confine its coalition to 'the willing,' but can instead reach for the broadest alliance money can buy. A massive aid package helped persuade the Turks to allow the U.S. basing rights. Now it appears that the leverage of U.S. economic muscle, aid and trade agreements may be used to convince the likes of Mexico, Chile, Angola, Guinea and Cameroon to back Washington at the U.N. Security Council."

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CNN's Jamie McIntyre reports on the movement of U.S. B-2 bombers and aircraft carriers into positions for possible Iraqi action.
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ON THE AGENDA
Saturday:
  • Iraq expected to begin destroying Al Samoud 2 missiles as early as today

  • Hans Blix's progress report is to be submitted to the U.N. Security Council

  • Turkish parliament expected to debate U.S. proposal to base 62,000 troops in Turkey
  • (CNN) -- With events moving closer to a possible war with Iraq, here is a look at some of the latest developments around the world:

    ROAD TO WAR?

    • TURKEY MEETING INCONCLUSIVE: A meeting of Turkey's National Security Council ended after four hours Friday with no recommendations to the parliament about a proposal to allow more than 60,000 U.S. troops to operate from Turkish soil in the event of a war with Iraq. A Turkish foreign ministry source interpreted the lack of recommendations as a sign that the council preferred to allow the parliament to decide without its input. The parliament is expected to debate and vote on the issue Saturday. (Full story)

    • BLIX: MISSILES TO BE DESTROYED: Iraq is expected to begin destroying its Al Samoud 2 missiles Saturday, as demanded, U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix said. Iraq agreed in principle to destroy the missiles in a letter Baghdad sent to U.N. weapons inspectors Thursday but said it does not know how to destroy the weapons and wants a U.N. technical mission to discuss the details. Iraqi and U.N. officials are expected to hold technical talks Saturday, as Blix's latest progress report is submitted to the Security Council. Blix said his deputy, Demetrius Perricos, is in Baghdad and will discuss with the Iraqis the "program for the destruction." (Full story)

    • WHITE HOUSE ALLEGES 'DECEPTION': The Bush administration dismissed on Friday Iraq's agreement to destroy its Al Samoud 2 missiles as "the deception the president predicted." "We expect them to destroy at least some of their missiles, not all," said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer. "And while they will destroy one missile on the one hand, they produce new ones on the other hand." Fleischer said Bush views Iraq's latest move as "the tip of the iceberg" in coming to full compliance to disarm. He pointed to the fact that Iraq has yet to account for the weapons of mass destruction it claims to have destroyed, including 26,000 liters of anthrax, and 1.5 tons of nerve agent. (Full story)

    • FOURTH STRIKE: For the fourth day in a row, coalition aircraft monitoring the southern "no-fly" zone in Iraq bombed radar sites and a missile system that had been moved into the region in violation of U.N. resolutions, U.S. Central Command said Friday. Coalition planes used precision-guided weapons to target three mobile air-defense early-warning radars and a surface-to-air missile system in southern Iraq. The equipment was located near An Nasiriyah, about 170 miles southwest of Baghdad.

    WAR OF WORDS

    • Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has no intention of disarming and must be forced to do so, President Bush said in a newspaper interview published Friday. "My attitude about Saddam Hussein is that if he had any intention of disarming, he would have disarmed," Bush told USA Today. "We will disarm him now," he said later in the interview. Bush called war his last option, but he also said he believes Americans fully understand that the United States could soon go to war, the newspaper said. "I've thought long and hard about the consequences and the price that could be paid," Bush said.

    • Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Friday, "We will consider any new resolutions that support the weapons inspectors' work. But we will not support any resolutions that directly or indirectly authorize using force against Iraq. We hold veto power. We would use it if it were for maintaining world stability." Ivanov spoke at a news conference in Beijing that followed two days of meetings with Chinese officials. (Full story)

    • French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said Friday that Iraq's pledge to begin destroying its Al Samoud 2 missiles showed that U.N. arms inspections generated results. "It's an important step in the disarmament of Iraq. It confirms that the inspections give results," he said of Iraq's pledge, which the United States and Britain have said was insufficient. "There is no reason to discontinue the peaceful disarmament of Iraq. We are opposed to the draft second resolution, as is a majority of the Security Council, and notably Russia," he said. (Full story)

    IMPACT

    • President Bush's support level has fallen again, polls show. The percentage of registered voters who say they would support Bush in 2004 fell below 50 percent for the first time, according to a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, which finds more Americans concerned about the economy. Two-thirds of those who responded to the poll describe current economic conditions as poor, a 10-point increase since December. Optimism about the future of the economy also dropped 10 points during that time. Asked their choice for president, 47 percent of the registered voters polled said they would support Bush in 2004 -- compared with 51 percent in December. About 39 percent said they would support a Democratic candidate, compared with 37 percent in December. (Full story)

    • At least 3,000 protesters in Manama, Bahrain, angrily demonstrated Friday against a war in Iraq, chanting anti-American slogans and burning American flags. Scores of people marched from Ras al Roman mosque in this capital city to U.N. headquarters. Their stance reflected the growing dislike among many for the U.S. and British military buildup in the Persian Gulf. Other demonstrations Friday were held in Yemen, Turkey and the Philippines. In Bahrain, protesters chanted such slogans as "Death to America," "Not one drop of our blood for this war," "Terrorism comes from Bush" and "Baghdad will be a graveyard of the American army." (Gallery)


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