- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 3, 2002

NEW YORK Security Council members expect the United States to circulate a revised resolution on Iraq early this week, after Russia indicated that the positions of the five veto-wielding members were getting closer.
But Moscow made clear that "considerable differences" remain on key issues and continued to oppose language that would allow the United States to attack Iraq on its own.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said that last week was "productive" in the search for a resolution that would satisfy Russia and France.
"Talks are continuing along," he told reporters yesterday aboard Air Force One while President Bush was flying to Tennessee. He wouldn't say when the United States expects a Security Council vote.
Diplomatic contacts continued Friday between key capitals, and U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix briefed the 10 elected Security Council members on his plans for inspections and talks he had with Mr. Bush last week about the U.S. proposal.
Later Mr. Blix met Iraqi Ambassador Mohammed Al-Douri. The ambassador said he requested the meeting to hear firsthand about Mr. Blix's talks with Mr. Bush and other senior U.S. officials.
"He told me the most important thing is the United States chose the path of the United Nations to resolve the problem," Mr. Al-Douri said, but he expressed skepticism about Mr. Bush's real motive because the president is committed to ousting Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
"I still think the United Nations will be used as a tool for America to implement their political program against my country," he said.
After seven weeks of negotiations and almost daily demands from Mr. Bush for the United Nations to act against Iraq or face becoming irrelevant, Washington is slowing down its timetable.
U.S. officials say a vote is unlikely until late this week because of the need to revise the resolution and have the council discuss the updated draft, which will delay U.N. action until after the U.S. midterm elections Tuesday.
The United States is increasingly optimistic about support for a tough resolution in the 15-member council and has said it has nine "yes" votes, the minimum needed for adoption.
The revised U.S.-British draft is expected to make minor changes to plans for new inspections, but it's not clear whether it will meet Russian, French and Chinese concerns about language that could authorize a U.S. attack. These three countries who are permanent members of the Security Council along with the United States and Britain possess the power to veto and scuttle any resolution.
U.S. officials said the new text would extend a deadline for Iraq to declare chemical programs not related to weapons to 50 days from 30 days.
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said, "In the last few days we have succeeded in bringing the approaches of the five permanent members closer. We have converged on a whole series of positions."
Meanwhile, Security Council member Mauritius was reported yesterday to have recalled its U.N. envoy for hesitating to support Washington on Iraq. Ambassador Jagdish Koonjul had not followed instructions and "gave the impression that Mauritius was against the U.S.-drafted resolution on Iraq," the Pan African News Agency quoted Mauritian Foreign Minister Anil Gayan as saying.
Mr. Koonjul, a favorite of journalists and many diplomats, left for the Mauritian capital of Port Louis on Friday, said Reuters news agency quoting diplomats.
Mauritius, an Indian Ocean island nation, is among 10 council members elected for a two-year term.
There was no evidence of U.S. pressure on Mauritius, and U.S. officials were not available for comment. President Bush is planning a visit to Mauritius in January.

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