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Bush Administration Pushes for U.N., Congressional Backing on Iraq

At the UN, delegates led by Russia have expressed opposition to a new resolution dealing with Iraq, saying existing post-Gulf War Security Council motions deal with the issue.

The U.S., led by Secretary of State Colin Powell, has called for a new resolution that would set a deadline for the return of inspectors and threaten possible military consequences for non-compliance.

President Bush said Wednesday that a new resolution would ensure continued pressure on the Iraqi government.

“I think reasonable people understand this man [Saddam Hussein] is unreasonable,” Mr. Bush told reporters. “And reasonable people understand that this is just a ploy, this is a tactic.”

Arab ambassadors, who helped convince Iraq to readmit UN inspectors, appeared to reject U.S. calls for a tougher new Security Council motion.

“We don’t see any need for a resolution after the measures taken by the Iraq government,” Syria’s deputy ambassador, Faysal Mekdad, told Reuters.

Despite the continued debate, UN officials continued to move forward with plans to deploy inspectors without any new guidelines. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was scheduled to meet later Wednesday with Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri to discuss a timeline.

Meanwhile in Washington, President Bush said he would send a resolution to Congress calling for a tough new inspection regime and perhaps endorsing U.S. military action if the Iraqis interfere with the UN team.

The comments came after Mr. Bush sat down with the leaders of the House and Senate to discuss passing a motion before Congress leaves to campaign for mid-term elections this fall.

“I told the members that within the next couple of days this administration will develop language as — that we think is necessary. And we look forward to working with both Republicans and Democrats to get a resolution passed,” Mr. Bush said. “I want to thank the leadership for its commitment to get a resolution done before members go home for the election break.”

Senate Republican leader Trent Lott of Mississippi said he expected an administration proposal as early as Thursday and hoped for congressional action as early as next week.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said the Democrats would work with White House officials on the final document.

“[The Democrats will] work in concert with the administration — Republicans and Democrats — hopefully with the recognition that this ought to be done in the international arena,” he said after meeting with the president.

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