- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 19, 2003

BRASILIA, Brazil, March 19 (UPI) — Brazil's foreign minister Wednesday laid out Brazil's position on the prospects of a U.S.-led war on Iraq, stressing that the leadership in South America's largest nation has worked intensely to help the United Nations arrive at a peaceful solution.

Celso Amorim told Brazilian lawmakers in the capital, Brasilia, that the administration's official stance was that it "condemned the Iraqi government's disrespectful practices" despite that fact that some elected officials have voiced their support for Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Amorim went on to say that Brazil was an ardent proponent of "disarmament in a peaceful way."

The foreign minister also said the Brazilian government would officially condemn the actions of the United States for disrespecting the United Nations' authority as it searched for a peaceful alternative to war with Iraq.

President George W. Bush Monday gave Saddam an ultimatum, saying he and his sons would face military repercussions if they did not leave Iraq within 48 hours. The deadline for Bush's demand expired Wednesday night at 8 pm EST.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had been working the phones in recent weeks speaking to regional and international leaders — including U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan — about the possibility of summoning those world leaders opposed to war to a meeting of the General Assembly to discuss alternatives to armed conflict.

Lula is expected to make an official statement on the possibility of war following the deadline.

Brazil has become more vocal in its opposition to a potential war over the last month calling for more inspections and using armed force as only a last resort, in which case the U.N. Security Council must approve of the decision.

On Tuesday, Lula spoke out against Bush's decision to move ahead without the council's approval or the popular backing on many other U.N. member nations.

"In my opinion, it disrespects the United Nations," said Lula, "it doesn't take into account what the rest of the world thinks. And I think this is serous."

Asked if he thought a U.S.-led attack on Iraq was warranted, Lula responded curtly "I don't think it has legitimacy."

A majority of South American leaders echoed the Brazilian president's condemnation of the U.S. ultimatum, though Bolivia and Colombia — which receives U.S. aid for its struggle against leftist rebels — have backed the Bush decision to forge ahead without the approval of the United Nations.

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