| US Congressmen opposed to war against Iraq (from left to right), Michael Thompson, Jim McDermott and David Bonior, at Baghdad airport on Friday. (AFP)
Denver, Sept. 27 (Reuters): US President George W. Bush telephoned French President Jacques Chirac today as part of his push for a UN resolution effectively threatening Iraq with military action, the White House said.
Bush raised the issue of Iraq during a call to thank Chirac for the work of French troops who helped evacuate US students from the Ivory Coast this week to escape an army uprising that has left hundreds of dead in the West African nation.
“The President reiterated his desire to work with the United Nations to have a firm and effective outcome,” White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters as Bush flew to Denver on a domestic political fund-raising trip.
In Paris, Chirac spokeswoman Catherine Colonna said the French leader had told Bush that more than ever he wanted a two-resolution Security Council strategy on disarming Iraq — one on readmitting arms inspectors and a second one spelling out the consequences if Baghdad does not let the inspectors work freely.
“The President reiterated France’s position to him (Bush) — that disarming Iraq is necessary and must be done within a UN framework,” Colonna said. “The objective is the rapid and unconditional return of UN inspectors to Iraq. A simple, firm resolution which shows the unity and determination of the international community could help on this front.”
Washington has British support for a draft UN resolution warning Iraq of serious consequences if it did not comply with disarmament demands but faces an uphill struggle with other permanent Security Council members Russia, France and China.
Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov said today there was no clear proof in a British document made public this week that Baghdad had chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.
French officials announced yesterday Paris had won the backing of China, the other permanent Security Council member, for its two-step approach.
Fleischer made clear that Bush was sticking to his demand for a single resolution rather than the two-step process.
“The resolution has to make clear that Saddam Hussein is in violation of the UN Security Council resolutions. The resolution has to make clear what Iraq needs to do to come into compliance. The resolution has to make clear what will happen if Iraq does not come into compliance,” Fleischer said.
“The President supports a resolution that has all three of those components,” he added.
The spokesman said he also believed there was progress in the US Congress on the language of a resolution on Iraq, citing Senate majority leader Tom Daschle’s aim to bring the issue up for debate in the Senate next week.
Missile sites bombed
US and British jets bombed two Iraqi surface-to-air missile sites south of the capital Baghdad after Iraqi forces fired on Western aircraft, a Pentagon spokesman said today.
In Baghdad, an Iraqi military spokesman said the targets attacked were civilian and that one civilian was hurt.