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 Tuesday, March 18, 2003

  Iraq - The Countdown To War

Full text: UN security council resolution 1441 on Iraq

The Prime Minister says the US President has asked Australia to commit troops to the likely war against Iraq.John Howard spoke to George W Bush earlier this morning.Mr Howard says Federal Cabinet will meet shortly to consider the request.

The UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, announced today that all UN weapons inspectors, their support staff and UN humanitarian personnel are to be evacuated from Iraq.

The United States, Britain and Spain have withdrawn their plans for a new United Nations Security Council resolution, ending diplomatic efforts to win backing for a possible war with Iraq.

Robin Cook has resigned from Tony Blair's cabinet as the build-up to apparent war with Iraq gathers pace. The decision by the Leader of the House of Commons, one of the highest profile figures in the Labour Party, came as the cabinet held an emergency meeting in Downing Street.

Anti-war activists invaded the International Petroleum Exchange in central London on Monday, forcing the exchange to suspend trading.The exchange is Europe's major center for trading in futures contracts for crude oil.

Canadian forces would play no role in any attack launched on Iraq by the United States -- Canada's closest ally and largest trading partner. Canada to play a role in rebuilding Iraq after a war was over.


Ten Palestinians, including a four-year-old girl, were killed today during intense fighting sparked by Israeli swoops in the Gaza Strip.The bloodshed in Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza and around the town of Beit Lehiya in the north was a fresh blow to US and British attempts to promote the prospect of Israeli-Palestinian peace as war looms in Iraq.

Scientists worked Monday to identify the cause of a mysterious type of killer pneumonia that has spread from Asia to Canada and Europe via air travel.Health ministries and airport authorities around the globe were on high alert as Hong Kong's Health Minister Yeoh Eng-kiong announced the number of people infected with the illness there had nearly doubled.Although he said it was too early to talk of an epidemic, he confirmed that nearly 100 people in Hong Kong, most of them medical staff, had fallen ill.Hours later Britain reported its first suspected case.

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