U.S. officials had previously been pushing for a U.N. vote this week on a second resolution. However, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Thursday that President Bush may be open to a brief delay.
“It may conclude tomorrow. It may continue into next week,” he said.
Fleischer said the president was still committed to seeing the U.S., British and Spanish-backed resolution go to the floor of the Security Council.
“The president is willing to go the extra mile for a diplomacy,” the Associated Press quoted Fleischer as saying. “There is a limit on how far he’s willing to do.”
However, in an appearance before a House Appropriations subcommittee Thursday, Secretary of State Powell said it was possible the U.S. would pull the resolution before it goes to a vote.
“The options remain, go for a vote and see what members say or not go for a vote,” Powell said. “But … all the options that you can imagine are before us and [we will] be examining them today, tomorrow and into the weekend.”
“We are still taking to the members of the [U.N. Security] Council to see what is possible with respect to coalescing around a position that wouldn’t draw a veto,” he added.
France — a permanent Security Council member with veto authority — has maintained it will exercise its veto authority against a resolution authorizing military action in Iraq. Russia and China have also indicated they could use their veto power.
French Foreign Minister Dominique De Villepin said Thursday, however, that his country remains open to suggestions on how to peacefully resolve the Iraq debate within the Security Council.
“We want a solution and we are looking for consensus within the Security Council,” he told reporters.
“Everything must be tried to preserve the unity of the Security Council and we are working towards that,” he said. “France confirms its openness to seize all opportunities.”
Earlier Thursday, de Villepin spoke out against a British compromise proposal outlining a series of six demands Saddam Hussein would need to meet to avoid war.
De Villepin said the plan was unacceptable, telling reporters that France rejected the “logic of ultimatums.”
“We cannot accept the British proposals as they are based on a logic of war, a logic of an automatic recourse to force,” he said in remarks broadcast on French television.
In an earlier statement, De Villepin said, “It’s not about giving a few more days to Iraq before resorting to force, but about resolutely advancing through peaceful disarmament.”
In an effort to attract more support for the new plan, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said his country may be willing to drop one of the demands — that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein appear on state television and renounce weapons of mass destruction — if it would pave the way to an international consensus on a resolution.
“If the only issue between us, our partners on the Security Council and Saddam Hussein is whether or not he makes a TV broadcast, then we’d happily drop that,” he said.
Straw said the U.K. would still need some kind of statement from Saddam renouncing weapons of mass destruction.
Other demands in the British proposal include the confirmed destruction of 10,000 liters of anthrax and other chemical and biological weapons allegedly in Baghdad’s possession, destruction of al-Samoud 2 and other disallowed missiles and a full report on Iraq’s unmanned aerial vehicles program.