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Arab states turn to U.N.

U.S. National Security Adviser Rice met Secretary General Annan to discuss U.N. plans.
U.S. National Security Adviser Rice met Secretary General Annan to discuss U.N. plans.

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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The U.N. Security Council is scheduled to meet Wednesday at the request of the Arab League and non-aligned states to discuss the war in Iraq, while U.N. officials attempted to plan for the conflict's humanitarian consequences.

Numerous countries are expected to criticize the U.S.- and British-led invasion, and the session could extend into Thursday, Guinean Ambassador Mamady Traore, who holds the council's rotating presidency this month, said.

The Arab League has called for an immediate and unconditional withdrawal of invading troops, saying the attack violates the U.N. charter.

"Iraq is a member of the United Nations, and it is attacked and invaded by two permanent members who are supposed to be the defenders of the charter and international law," the Arab League's permanent U.N. representative Yahya Mahmassani said. "This is outrageous."

Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal Tuesday called for an end to all military action and a solution to the crisis "within an international legitimate framework," the Saudi Press Agency reported.

But U.S. officials denied reports that the Saudis had offered a new peace proposal, and White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said any peace plan that leaves Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in power "would not be workable."

And U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Tuesday, "We are going to prosecute this war to its conclusion -- that is, to free Iraq, liberate the people and remove this regime."

A Security Council diplomat said Arab countries are trying to determine whether a resolution condemning the attack on Iraq could get the nine votes needed for approval despite a certain veto by the United States and Britain, both permanent members of the 15-member council.

"We do hope the council will be able to support our position," Mahmassani said.

Powell said he was not aware of any proposed resolution that would call for an end to the fighting.

Food aid

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has asked the Security Council to reconfigure the world body's oil-for-food program so the United Nations can take over from the Iraqi government the authority to change or negotiate contracts. ('Aid near')

The proposal has sparked criticism from the still-standing Iraqi government and raised concerns it would imply U.N. approval for the invasion and a subsequent occupation.

"I think we all need to come together and see this as a humanitarian effort, which has nothing to do with any of the positions one might have taken or not taken on the second resolution or the earlier debates," Powell said.

A predominantly U.S. and British force invaded Iraq last week to oust Saddam's government. The United States and Britain say Iraq has failed to give up its weapons of mass destruction, as required by U.N. resolutions ending the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

The two countries abandoned efforts to obtain U.N. backing before launching the attack.

Washington and London are promising to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq as the war goes on.

About 60 percent of Iraqis rely on food aid under the U.N.'s oil-for-food program, which was suspended last week when Annan ordered U.N. staff out of Iraq.

Security Council members are scheduled to discuss the proposals Wednesday morning before the afternoon's open session, and U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice met with Annan to discuss the matter Tuesday, Fleischer said.


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