INTERNATIONAL

Bush may have his say in Senate

Washington OCT. 3. With the backing from the Republican and Democratic leaderships in the House of Representatives for the Resolution on Iraq, the President, George W. Bush, is finding an increasing number of sceptical Democrats in the Senate falling in line. And one distinct impression is that the Resolution authorising the President to use all means, including force, against Iraq will clear Capitol Hill next week.

The alternative in the Senate by way of the proposal of the Senators, Joseph Biden and Richard Lugar, appears to be dead for all practical purposes. It is difficult to say if this will even be offered as an amendment when the Resolution comes up for debate and vote in the Senate. The House of Representatives has already taken up the Resolution in all seriousness with the Committee on International Relations opening a debate on Wednesday and expecting to clear it today so that the full House can vote next week on the issue.

Most members on the Committee are in favour of the Resolution and those who have voiced doubts have gone no farther than expressing "grave concerns''. The focus is on the Senate where some lawmakers hope that the language could still be fine-tuned to make it specific and with an emphasis on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Some Senators are also keen on knowing what it is that the Bush administration has in mind for the post-Saddam Hussein era in Iraq. What is being pointed out is that the accord between the White House and the House of Representatives does in fact address a number of concerns raised by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. And the language that is now in place reflect the slow but tough negotiations that has gone on over the last several days. For example, the President has to report to Congress within 48 hours of any commencement of attack against Iraq. And the Resolution is Iraq-specific in that it applies to only relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions and has no "regional'' dimension.

Politically and in the context of what is taking place in New York, the "deal'' with the House and the definite picking up of support in the Senate means that the Bush administration has now the extra leverage to work on the United Nations Security Council where countries like Russia and France remain opposed to any sweeping Resolutions on Iraq.

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