Bush meets with Britain, Spain before U.N. vote

Posted 6:00 p.m. March 19

by Carolyn Polinsky
U-WIRE Washington Bureau

President Bush met with the leaders of Britain and Spain on Sunday to “discuss all final diplomatic options” on “how best to proceed to make it unequivocally clear to Saddam Hussein that there will be serious consequences if he fails to disarm” said Bush spokesman Ari Fleisher.

The summit was considered a last attempt for the nations to garner support for a resolution to go to war with Iraq that is supposed to be voted on Monday. A vote for war would likely fail.

On Thursday, French President Jacques Chirac said that he would not support the use of force against Iraq if the country fails to disarm and called for more inspections and diplomatic relations. British Prime Minister Tony Blair is expected to benefit from the meeting, because he is facing opposition to war within his country.

Bush has said that the United States does not need the resolution to pass and the United States can wage war on its own. The day long meeting took place between Bush, Blair and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Azner at Portugal’s Azores islands. Russia and France would both be likely to veto Monday’s resolution for war.

On Thursday, only six of the council members said they would side with the United States to go to war and nine votes are needed for a measure to pass. On Friday, Chile circulated a petition saying Iraq should be given 30 more days for disarmament but did not specify repercussions if the country would fail to do so. Fleisher said that Bush did not agree with the proposal and reiterated that the President wouldn’t be open to extending the deadline by three to four weeks.

Chile’s resolution calls for Iraqi scientists to be interviewed outside their country, destroy Al Samoud missiles and disclose weapons. Also on Friday, President Bush said that there was progress on a vision of peace in the Middle East that he called for last June. He said that the Palestinians and Israelites are closer to living side by side in security.

“The government of Israel, as the terror threat is removed and security improves, must take concrete steps to support the emergence of a viable and credible Palestinian state,” Bush said in a Rose Garden address.

The emergence of new leaders in both countries would allow for the peace process to take place, Bush said. Although Bush did not talk about Iraq in his Rose Garden statement, he has said in the past, that a regime change in Iraq would lead to restructuring the Middle East and peace between the two feuding groups.

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