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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Takes Iraq Case to Russia and France

UNITED NATIONS -- A U.S. State Department official, accompanied by a British envoy, was being dispatched Thursday to France and Russia in an effort to convince them to support a strongly worded UN resolution, diplomats said.

Consequently, no text was expected to emerge until Monday, when U.S. officials may meet the other four permanent members on the 15-nation UN Security Council with veto power -- Britain, China, France and Russia.

The official, Marc Grossman, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, was to leave Thursday and begin talks in Paris on Friday. He then goes to Moscow, returning late Sunday, diplomats and Bush administration officials said.

A British official, who was not identified, will accompany him along with staff from the National Security Council, the diplomats said.

The U.S. push to win quick approval of a resolution has been delayed all week, first because of differences within the administration and then with close ally Britain, who urged Washington to soften some of the language, diplomats said.

But a State Department official said Thursday the United States and Britain were close enough to an agreement on a text to approach the Russians and the French.

As part of its efforts to get agreement on the resolution, U.S. Secretary of State Powell spoke by telephone Thursday to Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and Chinese Foreign Minister Tan Jiaxuan, a State Department official said in Washington.

The resolution is expected to give various deadlines for Iraqi cooperation with the inspectors but could change.

"I am not commenting on what may or may not be in the resolution because it can change before it comes before the Security Council," Britain's UN ambassador, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, told reporters.

He denied any rift between Washington and London, although other Security Council diplomats reported that Britain had been trying to tone down the language of the U.S. draft, fearing it would be rejected or barely get enough votes.

A Security Council resolution needs nine votes in favor and no veto in the 15-nation body.

The United States has not ruled out a second resolution as France wants, said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. But it would prefer one measure that threatens force immediately.

Chief UN arms inspector Hans Blix meets Iraqi arms experts in Vienna on Monday and Tuesday to make preparations for inspections. He plans to go to Iraq with advance teams on Oct. 15 but diplomats say this could be delayed.

Blix, however, may need a second preparatory meeting with the Iraqis. The United States wants to make sure Baghdad agrees to "unfettered inspections" that would exclude past agreements, which give special consideration for President Saddam Hussein's palace compounds, the envoys said.