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EU: Parliament, Commission Call For Peaceful Solution On Iraq

Brussels, 30 January 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The European Parliament today passed a resolution calling on the United States to refrain from taking unilateral military action against Iraq. Voting 287 to 209, the parliament called for the United Nations to find a peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis. The parliament also said Iraqi President Saddam Hussein must "cooperate fully [and] unconditionally" with UN weapons inspectors searching for illegal weapons of mass destruction.

In a related development, the leaders of eight European countries -- Britain, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, and Spain -- made public today a common declaration expressing solidarity with the U.S. stance that Iraq must disarm. The open letter was published in several European newspapers.

The European Commission said the letter represents the leaders' personal views. Spokesman Jonathan Faull, speaking today in Brussels, said that while the signatories are important figures in European Union politics, the official position taken by the European Commission that "war is not inevitable" remains unchanged. "Our position is very clear: War is not inevitable. There's a problem to be solved, and we support the efforts of the United Nations and its inspectors on the ground who are trying to resolve the problem. Everything must be done to resolve the problem without military conflict," Faull said.

The letter also said that the relationship between Europe and the United States "should not become a casualty of the current Iraqi regime's persistent attempts to threaten security." It called for the preservation of that unity and emphasized the role of the United Nations in persuading Iraq to disarm.

The letter was not signed by France or Germany, the two EU countries persistently opposed to any military action to force Iraq's disarmament.