- The Washington Times - Friday, February 28, 2003

American diplomats are crisscrossing the globe and offering numerous inducements to the smaller states serving on the U.N. Security Council in the run-up to a Security Council vote on Iraq.
While Secretary of State Colin L. Powell has said the United States is not in the business of buying votes on the council, a senior State Department official told reporters Wednesday: "We want to be nice to people who are nice, and good to the people who are good to us."
To that end, U.S. Ambassador to Cameroon George Staples is preparing to meet with President Paul Biya this week to discuss what one senior U.S. official called "a prestige visit" to Washington.
The United States hopes to persuade the Francophone country as former French colonies are called to vote in favor of the British and U.S. draft resolution introduced Monday at the United Nations.
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Walter Kansteiner spoke with Mr. Biya in Paris last week after visiting Guinea and Angola, the two other African countries that are currently nonpermanent members of the Security Council.
Mr. Biya was in Paris for a Francophone African summit that endorsed French President Jacques Chirac's campaign to give the U.N. weapons inspectors more time.
But State Department spokesman Richard Boucher Wednesday described the talks with Mr. Biya as "very, very useful, very helpful." He added, "We want to make sure that people understand our positions and that they are able to make the kind of judgment that is required of Security Council members."
State Department officials Wednesday characterized meetings last week with ailing Guinean President Lansana Conte as positive and said they would predict that he will instruct his diplomats in New York to favor a U.S. resolution.
"To start, he hates the French. That's a plus in our column. And he seemed to listen intently when we spoke to him," one senior U.S. official said.
In Angola, Mr. Kansteiner had an easier time convincing a government that exports more oil to the United States than Kuwait to take seriously the U.S. position on Iraq. While direct aid was not discussed, U.S. officials said Mr. Kansteiner raised the issue of American support for a World Bank aid program for the country in the context of the U.N. vote.
"If our government asks anything from America, it will not be money, it will be a better political relationship," Evaristo Jose, spokesman of the Angolan Embassy in Washington, told United Press International.
"We are still selling more oil to America than Kuwait. But Kuwait has a special status that we do not have. Kuwait has military support, political support, diplomatic support and economic support. We want America to be engaged in the reconstruction of our country."
The United States and its allies hope to secure at least the nine votes needed on the U.N. Security Council (if none of its permanent members exercises a veto) to pass a resolution.
The draft imposes no deadline and contains no threat of armed intervention, but it refers to the earlier Security Council Resolution 1441 passed in November, and that resolution threatened "serious consequences" if Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein failed to disarm. The phrase is regarded as a threat of war.
The votes of Angola, Cameroon and Guinea matter a great deal. All three countries are officially on the fence and their support will be needed to pass a resolution.


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