- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 12, 2003

WASHINGTON, March 12 (UPI) — The White House said Wednesday that President George W. Bush was continuing to talk to world leaders about the U.N. resolution authorizing military action against Iraq as Britain offered Iraqi President Saddam Hussein a series of conditions to end the diplomatic standoff.

"We are in the end stages of a very serious diplomatic endeavor," White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said.

Tuesday morning, Bush telephoned United Arab Emirates President Nuhayyan Zayid and Philippine President Gloria Arroyo, Fleischer said.

The calls are part of an ongoing campaign by the administration to gain support for the draft resolution introduced last week to the U.N. Security Council. The United States, Spain and Britain want to give Iraq until Monday to disarm or face a massive military assault. France and Russia have threatened to veto the Security Council measure.

The United States needs nine votes — and no veto from a permanent member — in the Security Council to gain approval for the resolution.

Under that resolution, the United States and Britain have given Iraq until Monday to comply with the resolution. Discussions are under way on whether to extend that deadline, according to the British Broadcasting Corp.

Early Wednesday, Britain issued a list of disarmament conditions for Iraq, as Prime Minister Tony Blair faces tough opposition in London for his support of the possibility of war.

On Tuesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld suggested that Britain would not play a role in the Iraqi invasion. The White House said Wednesday that Bush continues to work with "our good friends in the United Kingdom" and that the president values Blair's counsel.

Blair offered the conditions before Parliament where he faced intense scrutiny over his backing of the United States. Britain is the only nation other than the United States that has moved a substantial military force into the Iraq region.

Under Britain's proposal, Saddam would publicly account for his weapons of mass destruction, Baghdad would allow 30 scientists to be interviewed outside the country, stockpiles of anthrax and other biological and chemical weapons would have to be destroyed and al Samoud 2 missiles would have to be destroyed. The proposal also called for Saddam to account for all unmanned drones and surrender mobile bio-warfare laboratories.

The United States has long contended that Saddam has been deceptive in reporting whether his country still has stockpiles of deadly biological or chemical weapons or illegal missiles.

A spokesman for the National Security Council said diplomatic efforts were "fast moving" and "complex" and ongoing at the highest levels of government.

The administration has been arguing its case aggressively, fueled by information that surfaced about Iraq's apparent production of an unmanned drone and bombs capable of dispensing chemical and biological weapons.

The information was reportedly contained in a report delivered Friday to the Security Council but chief arms inspector Hans Blix did not mention it in his presentation to the panel.

Bush's efforts to convince the international community have been difficult since foreign ministers for Russia, France and Germany vowed to block the resolution's approval.

French President Jacques Chirac said on Monday in a television interview that a war in Iraq could jeopardize the international anti-terrorism coalition.

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