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World - Middle East

U.S. lobbies for world support in Iraq standoff

graphic November 3, 1998
Web posted at: 7:24 p.m. EDT (2324 GMT)

In this story:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- As the United States lobbied world leaders for support in the latest U.N. standoff with Iraq, the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday deliberated a draft resolution condemning Iraq for halting cooperation with U.N. weapons inspectors.

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who met with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer in Washington on Tuesday, called the situation with Iraq "grave" and said the United States is counting on a "united response" from the international community.

Albright: 'Potential use of force'

"I believe that the best kind of diplomatic action is when we can combine it, in this kind of a situation, with the potential of the use of force," Albright said.

She added that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has "in a huge way miscalculated," because while the U.N. Security Council was in the past divided, "he has managed to unite the council."

Echoing Albright's sentiments, Fischer said close cooperation between allies "is the most important thing."

The British Foreign Ministry also issued a statement saying "all options remained on the table," "including the use of force if required to get Saddam Hussein to submit to the will of the United Nations."

Russia warns against 'one-off' strike

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, however, said there could be no military solution to the Iraq crisis and warned the United States against a "one-off" strike to force Baghdad's compliance with U.N. demands.

In an interview on Russian television Tuesday, Ivanov also sharply criticized Iraq for provoking the crisis by ending cooperation and said Baghdad must reverse its course.

He also lamented Baghdad's action when Russia, France and other states keen to end the long U.N. standoff with Iraq were making headway on obtaining "comprehensive review" of U.N. policy toward Iraq.

"The Iraqi leadership has to understand that this is an unconstructive road toward the worsening of the crisis and the worsening of the suffering of the Iraqi people," Ivanov said.

U.N. sanctions limit Iraq's sale of oil, ban air travel and bar most trade deals. They were imposed to punish Iraq for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, which led to the Persian Gulf War. The Security Council has said in will not consider lifting the sanctions until the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM), which oversees weapons inspections, certifies that Iraq has eliminated its weapons of mass destruction. Iraq insists it has met all of the U.N. requirements and the embargo should be lifted.

Security Council debates resolution

Britain drafted the Security Council resolution, which calls Iraq's move to halt cooperation a "flagrant violation" of a 1991 U.N. resolution on Iraqi disarmament.

The 15-member council discussed the resolution in closed consultations Tuesday afternoon but is not expected to vote on it until later in the week.

The draft, which does not specifically authorize the use of force, said the situation in Iraq "continues to pose a threat to international peace and security."

It demands that Iraq rescind its suspension of cooperation with the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

On August 5, Baghdad announced that UNSCOM and the IAEA could no longer conduct intrusive inspections and would only be allowed to monitor previously identified weapons sites. Last Saturday, Iraq said it would halt all cooperation with UNSCOM and not allow it to do any monitoring.

Cohen meets with U.S. allies near Iraq

U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen flew to Riyadh on Tuesday, where he met with Saudi Arabia's King Fahd to discuss the Iraq situation.

The Defense Ministry in Kuwait, which was invaded by Iraqi forces in 1990, said Cohen was due there Wednesday morning for consultations. Cohen will visit the Turkish capital Ankara on Friday, a Turkish foreign ministry official said.

A U.S. Defense Department spokesman said in Washington that the U.S. force of 21 warships and 174 aircraft now in the Gulf is sufficient for any military action against Iraq.

The United States and Britain threatened military strikes on Iraq in February over arms inspections, but the crisis was resolved at the last minute by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The inspections began after the 1991 Gulf War over Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

Reporter Jonathan Aiken and Reuters contributed to this report.

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