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 Tuesday, March 18, 2003

  The Test of Wills on Iraq - The Countdown

Full text: UN security council resolution 1441 on Iraq

Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin on Monday reiterated France's opposition to any near-term war against Baghdad just hours before the U.N. Security Council was to considered the Iraq situation."The Iraqi crisis is not a problem between them and France," de Villepin told Europe-1 radio, referring to U.S., Britain and Spanish leaders who met Sunday in the Azores to discuss Iraq. "It's a problem today between those who decide to enter into a logic of war and the international community that in its very large majority believes it is inopportune."

Germany has joined France and Russia in disregarding a US-led final round of diplomacy over Iraq.UN Security Council member countries are engaged in sustained telephone diplomacy, with the US, Britain and Spain urging support for a second resolution authorising force if Iraq does not disarm.German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder says he remains opposed to a resolution legitimising war against Iraq.

France has called for an emergency UN ministerial meeting to set a timetable for Iraq's peaceful disarmament, ignoring a Monday deadline set by the United States and three allies for the United Nations to authorise war to eliminate Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix was also ignoring the threat of a possibly imminent war for the moment and preparing to give the Security Council a 30-page report listing about a dozen key remaining disarmament tasks that Iraq should complete in the coming months.


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