- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 20, 2003

The White House yesterday abandoned its position that a new U.N. resolution against Iraq is unnecessary and said the United States and Britain will introduce such a resolution within days.
"The president intends to work with our friends and allies to offer a resolution either this week or next at the United Nations Security Council," White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said.
But some diplomats said the U.N. Security Council might not vote on the resolution until after chief weapons inspector Hans Blix gives another report to the world body early next month. That could delay any military strike until mid-March, which is several weeks past what Pentagon planners regard as the ideal time to commence hostilities. They see the last week of February as the optimal fighting time.
Jeremy Greenstock, Britain's ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters the new resolution probably will include a deadline for Iraq to demonstrate it is disarming.
"Explicitly or implicitly, I do expect that, because time will run out as time always does," Mr. Greenstock said. "There is a menu of options."
Meanwhile, President Bush thanked George Robertson, the NATO secretary-general, for overcoming French, German and Belgian resistance to sending military aid to protect Turkey from any attack by neighboring Iraq.
"You've done a fantastic job of keeping this alliance together," the president told Mr. Robertson in an Oval Office meeting.
Mr. Robertson said, "Today we've sent AWACS aircraft and Patriot missiles and chem, bio and defensive equipment to Turkey, another ally, in trouble, under threat, asking for help."
Paraphrasing former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Mr. Robertson said NATO "can always be counted on to do the right thing, after it's exhausted every other alternative."
Although Turkey now has the NATO military aid it requested, it has still not secured the billions in U.S. aid it is demanding in exchange for staging rights for U.S. forces that could attack Iraq from the north.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld predicted that the Turks will "end up cooperating," but he refused to say whether a deadline had been set for acceptance of the U.S. offer.
"They've been a long-standing ally and friend, and NATO ally as well, to the United States," he said. "I suspect that in one way or another, in a variety of ways probably, they'll end up cooperating in the event that force has to be used in Iraq."
The decision by the administration to push for a new resolution came one day after Mr. Bush insisted such a resolution was unnecessary. The White House now wants an up-or-down vote by the Security Council, even if some members threaten a veto.
"If the U.N. fails to endorse action to disarm [Iraqi leader] Saddam Hussein, there's a bigger question, and that is: What good does the United Nations Security Council do if it passes a resolution saying you cannot have prohibited weapons and it looks the other way when you have them?" Mr. Fleischer said.
"Why then would people look to the United Nations as an instrument of peace, if instead all it is, is an instrument of putting out declarations that nobody intends to take seriously anyway?" he added.
In an effort to pre-empt such a scenario, the White House invoked the specter of Kosovo for the second day in a row. In 1991, the United Nations failed to rid Yugoslavia of President Slobodan Milosevic, who is on trial for war crimes.
If the United Nations takes a similar stand on Iraq, "then you can anticipate at that point, much like Kosovo, where the United States led a coalition to disarm, in this case Saddam Hussein."
Meanwhile, the United States made a final offer to Turkey to trade billions in cash for the use of its military bases. The White House said a U.S.-led attack on Iraq can proceed without Ankara's acceptance.
Turkey deferred a decision on the offer until next week at the earliest, putting into doubt a northern front of any two-pronged invasion of Iraq.
Mr. Fleischer said Mr. Bush is prepared to deploy U.S. troops elsewhere in the region if Turkey rejects the take-it-or-leave-it offer.
"There comes a moment when plans must be made, decisions must be made and [negotiations] cannot stretch on indefinitely," Mr. Fleischer said. "Turkey, of course, is desirable from a strategic point of view for any military staging, but the military of the United States is sufficiently flexible that whatever decision is made the United States will still be successful in carrying out any military operations."
Mr. Rumsfeld said an invasion of Iraq was "doable" without the use of Turkish bases.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the chairman of Turkey's ruling party and the nation's de facto ruler, said there were no plans for a parliamentary vote this week on allowing U.S. troops to use Turkish bases during an attack on Iraq.
"A date for the motion has not been set either for during the week or the weekend," he said.
Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul spoke with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell yesterday, but a written statement from Mr. Gul's office indicated the two NATO allies were no closer to reaching an agreement.
While the White House refused to officially disclose how much money the United States is offering Turkey in the economic aid package, a senior administration official said the deal includes $6 billion in grants and U.S. government backing for up to $20 billion in loan guarantees.
Turkey, however, wants more than $30 billion in assistance.
Members of Congress, who must approve the package, had been told the cost would not exceed $15 billion.


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