- The Washington Times - Monday, January 27, 2003

The international community should give U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq all the time they need even months to finish their work, the European Union's top diplomat said yesterday.
While Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said Iraq's lack of cooperation with inspectors has given the United States the right to intervene militarily, EU foreign-policy chief Javier Solana said the inspectors have yet to give their report to the U.N. Security Council.
Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix and International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Mohammed ElBaradei are to report today to the Security Council.
"I think that, in principle, we agree with what Secretary Powell has said, but we have to listen to the inspectors and have a debate in the Security Council to see how we proceed further on down the road," Mr. Solana said on ABC's "This Week."
"On Monday, Mr. Blix … may ask for help, and he may ask for means, he may ask for time. I think we should respond positively if that is the case. We have to give a chance to the inspectors."
When asked how much time inspectors should be given, Mr. Solana replied: "We are talking about a question of weeks, about months, but not an infinite amount of time. The contribution, the cooperation of Saddam Hussein with the inspectors, has to be proven very, very rapidly."
Tomorrow night, President Bush is expected to press his case for military action in Iraq during his State of the Union address.
An estimated 150,000 U.S. troops are expected to be in the Persian Gulf by the middle of next month.
Turkey's military said it will allow up to 20,000 U.S. troops to pass through the country into northern Iraq in the event of war, according to a newspaper report yesterday. The report comes after visits to Turkey last week by the U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the U.S. general leading NATO, of which Turkey is a member.
U.S. allies France and Germany have publicly expressed opposition to immediate war. British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said he wants to give the inspectors more time.
Also, Kuwait said yesterday it wants Saddam to step down so war can be averted.
France said yesterday it will only join an attack on Iraq if U.N. experts prove that Saddam has weapons of mass destruction and refuses to eliminate them. Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie told French radio Europe 1 the inspectors needed more time to conduct thorough searches.
"There would have to be an action showing that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction and will under no circumstances eliminate them," she said. "That would no doubt be an important element, but it doesn't look like it will be the case."
White House officials shrugged aside French and German opposition to any U.S.-led war on Iraq, and cited Britain, Italy, Spain and Eastern European nations as countries that might back a U.S.-led effort against Baghdad.
But Washington's citing of Italy whipped up a political storm for Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, with opposition politicians uniting under an anti-war banner.
Italy's official line is that weapons inspectors must be given time to finish the job. It has indicated any war would have to be sanctioned by a fresh U.N. resolution.
This story is based in part on wire service reports.


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