President Bush has won enough support from members of the U.N. Security Council to push through a resolution authorizing the use of military force to oust Iraqi troops from occupied Kuwait if they are not withdrawn by Jan. 1, a published report said Monday.
Permanent Security Council members Britain, France and the Soviet Union have joined the United States in supporting the resolution, to be introduced Thursday, The New York Times reported. The fifth permanent member, China, has said it will not block the resolution but has yet to decide whether to vote in favor or abstain, the newspaper said.Six of the council's 10 rotating members - Canada, Finland, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Zaire and Romania - have indicated they will vote for the proposed resolution, ensuring it will get at least 10 of the 15 council votes, the Times said.
Canadian Foreign Minister Joe Clark said at a Cairo news conference the possible resolution was not a bluff or scare tactic but would be implemented if passed.
Bush and Secretary of State James Baker have traveled the globe in recent weeks, trying to drum up support for the measure.
The final wording on the resolution was not likely to include the words "military force" but would opt for some other formulation, such as "necessary means," officials told the Times.
A senior U.S. official said the Bush administration would interpret such language as authorizing the use of force, just as it did after the Aug. 25 resolution authorizing the naval blockade of Iraq, the Times said.
The Bush administration is pushing for a Jan. 1 deadline for the withdrawal of Iraqi troops, but diplomats cautioned that no final decision has been made, saying the council may end up setting the deadline toward the end of the month to allow more time for last-minute attempts to promote a peaceful settlement.
On Jan. 1, Yemen assumes the chairmanship of the Security Council. Yemen, the only Arab member of the council, has said it does not support military action in the gulf and would do everything possible to block a resolution authorizing the use of force.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz arrived in Moscow Monday and was told by his Soviet counterpart Eduard Shevardnadze to observe U.N. Security Council resolutions to leave Kuwait. Vitaly Churkin, appointed Foreign Ministry spokesman this month replacing Gennady Gerasimov, said Aziz and Shevardnadze talked for more than four hours.
Churkin said in no uncertain terms Moscow was telling its one-time ally Iraq that it had to obey the resolutions passed by the Security Council.
"From the Soviet side, the negotiations are about the necessity that Iraq carry out the Security Council resolutions."
It was announced Monday that the foreign ministers of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria would meet early next week in Cairo, their second such meeting in a month.
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, meanwhile, has begun drafting children under age 15 to guard vital military and economic installations in the event of war, Cairo radio reported Sunday.
Older Iraqis are already subject to the draft in Iraq, which has faced a manpower shortage since the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.
Brent Scowcroft, Bush's national security adviser, said Sunday there was a "common feeling" among members of the U.S.-led coalition against Iraq and the U.N. General Assembly that the Persian Gulf crisis must be brought to an end.
Although the United States has labored to put together a strong alliance against Saddam, U.N. approval is not necessary to legitimize any American action against Baghdad, Scowcroft said on ABC-TV's "This Week With David Brinkley."
Bush made a similar pronouncement Friday.