Tuesday, February 25, 2003

U.S. on Diplomatic Warpath over Second Resolution
"Senior U.S. officials have been quietly dispatched in recent days to the capitals of key Security Council countries where they are warning leaders to vote with the United States on Iraq or risk "paying a heavy price."

"They actually told us: 'any country that doesn't go along with us will be paying a very heavy price,' " said one Mexican diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Since both Germany and Syria have said they would not support the resolution, and Pakistan is almost certain to abstain, the United States must convince the African trio [Angola, Guinea and Cameroon] as well as Chile and Mexico to cast 'yes' votes. Otherwise, the resolution will fail [it needs 9 votes to pass].

"Complicating matters however is a back-room deal Mexico cut with Chile in which the two Spanish-speaking countries agreed to cast abstentions if the five powers on the council — The United States, Britain, France, Russia and China — failed to reach a compromise on Iraq.

"France is also doing its share of counterlobbying, trying to keep countries that have pushed for continued weapons inspections from moving over to the U.S. position. Paris' key sphere of influence is in Africa, where it was once a colonial power. At an African summit last week in Paris, French President Jacques Chirac said to have found unanimous support among African leaders that weapons inspections, not war, are the best way to disarm Iraq."

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