- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 24, 2002

NEW YORK The United States handed out copies of its resolution threatening military action against Saddam Hussein to the entire U.N. Security Council yesterday in an apparent bid end a six-week deadlock with France and Russia.
The dispute is about the next step if Iraq fails to cooperate with a new team of U.N. weapons inspectors. The Bush administration wants U.N. approval to attack immediately, while France, backed by Russia, is demanding additional action by the Security Council to authorize an attack.
Russia's U.N. Ambassador, Sergei Lavrov, quickly rejected the text, saying provision for the authorization of force if Iraq fails to comply with its terms was unacceptable. He said the resolution provides U.N. weapons inspectors with requirements they can't fulfill, just as the initial U.S. text did earlier this month.
"Unfortunately, so far we have not seen changes in the text which would take into account these concerns, and they are shared by France and China," Mr, Lavrov said, stepping to the microphone while a senior U.S. official was briefing a mob of journalists a few feet away.
[In Los Cabos, Mexico, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said "the U.S. is trying to be accommodating" on the resolution, but "we are not going to move off basic principle." He denied that the United States was proposing a take-it-or-leave-it action to the Security Council.
[He was in Mexico for the Asia-Pacific economic summit.]
The decision to take the dispute to all 15 council members followed an acknowledgement by U.S. officials of deep divisions among the five veto-wielding members the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia.
U.S. diplomats met in lengthy negotiating sessions yesterday at the United Nations while American officials flooded key capitals with telephone calls and visits.
In a final effort, Washington yesterday afternoon shared its latest draft of a resolution with the full Security Council.
U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said the council would discuss the text again tomorrow and then hear from U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix on Monday. Diplomats said Mr. Blix's assessment of whether inspectors can operate under the provisions in the U.S. draft will be critical for some members weighing their support for the plan.
U.S. officials say their patience with the council is running out, but they declined to say when they would walk away.
"I think that the end is coming into sight," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said. "It is not there yet, but it's coming into sight."
Mr. Fleischer added that the outcome would be "either an agreement or a failure to reach agreement, and it could be either one right now."
The United States has made minor modifications to its text during weeks of negotiations, using arcane phrases, such as warning Iraq of "serious consequences" if it remains in "material breach" of U.N. demands.
The changes were not enough to bring the Russians on board last night.
Until yesterday, France had taken the lead in opposing the United States. Recently, Russia had hinted that it would side with Washington.
cDavid R. Sands, in Mexico, contributed to this report.
But those hints evaporated yesterday into open rivalry with the Russians.
Mr. Lavrov purposely stepped on the text of a background briefing by a U.S. official.
The Russian made the gesture before a bank of television cameras positioned in front of the Security Council chambers, just a few feet from where the Americans were distributing their latest text.
Reporters scrambled from one briefing to the other.

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