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S P E C I A L: The Standoff with Iraq

Cohen holds out hope for Iraqi compromise

January 31, 1998
Web posted at: 1:37 p.m. EDT (1337 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen said Saturday there was still room for a negotiated settlement with Iraq over U.N. weapons inspections, and that military action was not necessarily the best answer.

Any possible attack against Iraq should not be seen as the answer to restricting President Saddam Hussein's capacity for producing weapons of mass destruction, Cohen warned.

"To the extent that there is a military option is not an adequate substitute for inspectors being on the ground, having unfettered access (to weapons sites). So that's why we continue to stress the need for unfettered access," he said.

"We would hope that we could achieve a diplomatic solution to the crisis as it exists, and the best way to achieve that is to have solid support within the (U.N.) Security Council and the United Nations ... We're hoping that we can persuade the members to support a very strong (Security Council) resolution and to support the United States in this effort."

"I think what's important is that we have the support of our allies to make sure that the sanctions stay in place, that the message to Saddam Hussein is that unless you allow the inspectors back in, there is no prospect for relief from those sanctions," Cohen said.

"We're hoping that will be the case. In the event that it's not, then we will have to deal with the issue as best we can recognizing, once again, that there's no single silver bullet solution."

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