- The Washington Times - Monday, March 3, 2003

WASHINGTON, March 3 (UPI) — The United States is not offering financial assistance for supporting votes in the U.N. Security Council over Iraq, a senior U.S. official said.

"There's no quid pro quo," Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said regarding Security Council deliberations.

In a recent interview with journalists from member nations of the U.N. Security Council, Armitage said the United States also understands that some Muslim countries face a "very complicated equation" on Iraq and wants to resolve this conflict quickly to the benefit those nations.

Armitage, who is one of the key State Department officials dealing with the Iraqi conflict, admitted that there's "some resentment" over the U.S. position on Iraq but said that many nations were also supporting Washington.

Referring to President George W. Bush's policy speech on Iraq last week, he said the president was right in saying that removing Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein would bring democracy to the Middle East because Saddam is preventing democracy from taking root.

Explaining the U.S. effort to win the support of the Security Council for its position on Iraq, Armitage said Bush believes that the U.N. resolution on the question of Iraq, one way or the other, will have a positive effect on the process of peace.

"We hope that (members of the Security Council) would see things our way," he said, adding, "We want to see a Security Council that matters."

Asked whether the United States would offer financial incentive to the Security Council members in return for their votes, Armitage said that the United States does not buy votes. "We do not make deals … there's no quid pro quo," he said.

"To say that a country can be bought would be insulting to its people and its governments. (The vote) is a responsibility, not a commodity that is bought and sold. A responsibility is a responsibility. You don't loan it. You don't sell it."

The deputy secretary of State said that of the 15 members of the U.N. Security Council, most have friendly relations with the United States, relations "that go past and beyond Iraq … and we are going to have relations with them after the vote as well."

He disagreed with the observation that vote in the Security Council was developing into a duel between France and the United States. All Washington wants the member nations to do is to "see your responsibility, do the right thing. We are not asking you to pick between us and France," he said.

Armitage said it was not right to say that even on the issue of Iraq, the United States has given an ultimatum to the international community saying "either you are with us or against us."

"That's not right. That (position) was on the war against terrorism. Have you heard any American saying that (on Iraq)," he asked.

He said there was some resentment but the world public opinion was not against the United States on the Iraqi issue. "There are 16 nations that have offered to support us with troops. There're 23 nations that are offering bases and overfly rights. So to say that the world is against us is not quite right, we have got a fairly good coalition."

The decision to go to war is "a very weighty one, a terrible thing," said Armitage while reminding the international community that if Washington went to war, it would do so only if it had no other option.

For some countries, like Pakistan, he said, "the spectrum of war in the Middle East" has a number of repercussions, ranging "from petroleum to the possible dislocation of workers and loss of their earning."

"Pakistan is in a very complicated equation," said Armitage while responding to a question on growing resentment in Pakistan and elsewhere against the U.S. position on Iraq.

The U.S. official said the resentment against the war in Iraq does not mean that Saddam was popular in Muslim countries. "Saddam Hussein does not appear to be very popular … but I think there is some resentment over the U.S. position in the world, with the strength that we have," said Armitage while commenting on anti-war demonstrations in Pakistan and other places.

Asked how does he propose to deal with this resentment, Armitage said that if the United States decides to go to war, he trusts "things will be handled well and quickly and we can get about the business of bringing much more peace and stability, and I might act, predictability to the whole gulf region."

This, he said, would not only "benefit Pakistan but also every other nation interested in the gulf."

Explaining Bush's statement last week that removing Saddam would encourage democracy in the Middle East and the Islamic world, the U.S. official said: "Saddam Hussein is someone who is intent on destabilizing the region, someone who invaded countries like Kuwait, fought Iran. He is an unstable factor in the region."

It is difficult for "democracy to take root" while Saddam is around, he said while blaming the Iraqi leader for "also paying money to suicide bombers in the occupied (Palestinian) territories.

Such acts, he said, were against the U.S. plan to "have two independent Palestinian and Israeli states living side by side in peace."

He said the United States wants a representative government in Iraq and is also committed to protecting Iraq's territorial integrity, "which means that the Kurds will not have an independent state."

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