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U.S. Working With Britain To Modify Resolution

Washington, 12 March 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The White House says U.S. President George W. Bush is working closely with Britain and other nations to develop new language for a resolution on Iraq that would be acceptable to a majority of the current members of the United Nations Security Council. Bush's spokesman, Ari Fleischer, told reporters today that Bush spoke by telephone with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the issue.

Fleischer is not disclosing the substance of the conversation with Putin, who so far is resisting any resolution that would include an automatic trigger for war against Iraq.

In an effort to attract more support to the proposal, Britain has introduced a set of specific disarmament conditions, or benchmarks, that Iraq must meet.

"The president [Bush] very much appreciates the United Kingdom's benchmarks and their approach to this. We are working very closely with the United Kingdom as well as other nations on the [UN] Security Council, discussing the United Kingdom's and other nations' various ideas. This is all part of these final stages in diplomacy."

Bush says a final resolution on Iraq will be submitted to the Security Council, even if there are not enough votes to pass it.

The White House says a proposal will be brought before the council no later than this week. But in Madrid, Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio says the proposed resolution may be withheld if it is clear that France will veto it.

Palacio says Spain fears a veto will hurt the United Nations. A Spanish Foreign Ministry spokesman later said Spain is still working toward a proposed resolution. Spain is a co-sponsor of the measure, along with the United States and Britain.