United Nations, 17 March 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The UN ambassadors from the United States, Great Britain, and Spain announced they have ended efforts to win UN approval for a second resolution that would give an ultimatum to Iraq, clearing the way for them to launch a war without Security Council authority. British UN Ambassador Sir Jeremy Greenstock blamed France for the decision, saying the French had made it clear they would veto any resolution: "The cosponsors will not pursue a vote on the draft resolution. The co-sponsors reserve their right to take their own steps to secure the disarmament of Iraq."
The French ambassador to the UN said the decision not to hold a vote on the resolution was because a majority of the members of the council would vote against it.
In Baghdad, several UN weapons inspectors checked out of their hotels today, witnesses said, ahead of a possible evacuation as the U.S. and Britain prepare for military action against Iraq. At the Burj Al-Hayat hotel, six inspectors loaded their bags into cars. Hotel staff said they were not sure how many others were leaving.
"Everyone has to be prepared to leave," one of them said, adding that he had not yet seen any directive to do so. UN officials said the chief weapons inspectors would tell the Security Council later today that their teams would leave Iraq within 24 hours.
The last time the inspectors evacuated Baghdad in 1998 -- hours before U.S.-British military strikes -- they assembled at the UN headquarters in the city.