U.S. steps up diplomacy on Iraq

Washington OCT. 5. In what appears to be a boost for the efforts of the United States at the United Nations, the chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, has agreed with the Bush administration that a new Iraq resolution is needed before the inspections can resume.

At the end of an hour-long meeting here with senior administration officials such as the Secretary of State, the National Security Advisor, and the Deputy Secretary of Defence, Mr. Blix remarked, "It would be awkward for us to go in and then find there was a new resolution''.

The United States, in the last several days, has been hanging tough in its position that Mr. Blix and his team should not go to Baghdad for new inspections unless and until the Security Council came out with new sets of parameters on what is to be done, the conditions of weapons inspections and the implications of not following through.

There is resistance from Council members, notably from France and Russia.

The warming up to the U.S. idea on a new resolution and weapons inspections came from the United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, as well. "He (Mr. Blix) has got his men ready, but as the Council is discussing further guidance, it would be appropriate for him to know that further guidance before he resumes, and I hope that will be forthcoming shortly'', Mr. Annan remarked. Apart from the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, working the telephone lines calling key officials and leaders overseas, American diplomats are said to be feverishly working the corridors of the United Nations rallying support for a new Iraq resolution that will be tough in its language and with a specific time-frame.

Russia does not want another resolution; and France wants two, the first dealing with inspections and the second, if necessary, on the use of force for non-compliance.

"We are agreed. There has to be constant pressure for Iraq to comply'', Mr. Blix said, going on to make the point that over the days he has indeed seen "convergence'' of views; and hoped that a new resolution does not take too long to materialise.

For his part, Gen. Powell acknowledged that differences remained with Council members but expressed optimism that they would be overcome. The talks between Mr. Blix and senior officials of the administration came on a day when the President, George W. Bush, raised the pitch in his condemnation of the Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein, calling him a "cold blooded killer'', a phrase that he has thus far only reserved for terrorists, especially the ones responsible for the horrific acts of Sept. 11, 2001.

Mr. Bush, in a speech in Boston, once again placed the onus on the United Nations, and did not fail to remind one more time that Washington will act alone if needed. "If the United Nations won't make the decision, if Saddam Hussein continues to lie and deceive, the United States will lead a campaign to disarm this man before he harms America'', Mr. Bush said.

The developments on the Iraq front came also on the day that the Senate debated the Iraq War Resolution throughout the day. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate are expected to vote on the Resolution next week.

The President came to an understanding with the leadership of the House this week; and even though there is a spirited dissent in the Senate, the White House is expected to prevail without much difficulty.

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