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Bush Signs Resolution on Iraq

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Bush signs resolution on Iraq

ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON, Oct. 16 — President Bush on Wednesday signed an Iraq war resolution overwhelmingly approved by Congress and told wary world leaders to “face up to our global responsibility” to confront Saddam Hussein.

October 16 — President Bush, speaking at the White House before signing a resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq, says ``we will defend our nation, and lead others in defending the peace’’.

“THOSE WHO choose to live in denial may eventually be forced to live in fear,” Bush said as the United Nations began a bitter debate over his anti-Iraq resolution. “Every nation that shares the benefits of peace also shares the duty of defending the peace,” he said.

Bush summoned about 100 supportive lawmakers to the East Room of the White House as he signed the newly passed resolution authorizing the use of force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam.

Bush used the speech — and the congressional vote — to press the U.N. to adopt a new resolution compelling Iraq to submit to unconditional weapons inspections.

‘WE WILL DEFEND OUR NATION’

“We will defend our nation and lead others in defending the peace,” the president said.

Though the president said military action would be his last resort, he left little room for Saddam to avoid confrontation. “Our goal is to fully and finally eliminate a real threat to world peace and to America,” he said.

The president’s message came as the U.N. Security Council started its first day of open debate on Iraq at the behest of the dozens of non-Security Council nations who oppose an attack on Baghdad. The debate is mostly designed to take the administration to task on its Iraq policies, and White House officials expected sharp criticism throughout the day.

Even as Bush spoke, Russia’s deputy foreign minister said the United States’ proposed resolution is unacceptable, while France’s proposal is closer to the Kremlin’s stance. Both nations hold veto power in Security Council.

‘RUSSIA CANNOT SUPPORT IT’

“The American variant of the resolution on Iraq has not undergone changes. It is unacceptable and Russia cannot support it,” Yuri Fedotov said, according to the news agency Interfax.

However, the French proposal contains “many positions that Russia shares,” Fedotov was quoted as saying.

As if in reply, Bush said, “The time has arrived once again for the United Nations to live up to the purposes of its founding to protect our common security. The time has arrived once again for free nations to face up to our global responsibility and confront a gathering danger.”

Flanked by lawmakers, Bush said, “This nation will not live at the mercy of any foreign power or plot.”

Among the dozen lawmakers who were invited to stand on stage with Bush at the signing ceremony were Sens. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., John McCain, R-Ariz., Joe Biden, D-Del., minority leader Trent Lott, R-Miss. and John Warner, R-Va.

Absent from the list was Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., whose granddaughter was born early Wednesday and whose schedule was packed with legislative and political business.

House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., who helped negotiate the resolution and provided Bush with welcome Democratic support at a White House appearance before the vote, was not attending. Gephardt’s travel schedule was keeping him away, a day after he ratcheted up his strong criticism of the Bush administration and Republicans on the economy.

In a major victory for the president, weeks of back-and-forth between Congress and the White House produced little significant change in Bush’s initial draft of the resolution. The measure giving Bush the authority to use military force, if necessary, to rid Iraq of its biological and chemical weapons and disband its nuclear weapons program was approved Friday by strong margins in the House and Senate.

PRESIDENT MUST NOTIFY CONGRESS

The resolution requires the president to notify Congress, before or within 48 hours after an attack, that further diplomatic approaches would not have protected U.S. security and to explain to Congress how the military action will not hurt the war on terror. But it allows Bush to take unilateral action regardless of U.N. activities.

Just seven Republican lawmakers - six in the House and one in the Senate - opposed the resolution, while nearly half the congressional Democrats were unwilling to give Bush such open-ended war-making authority and voted no.

PLEAS FROM BOTH SIDES

Passage of the resolution came with entreaties by lawmakers from both parties for Bush to exhaust all diplomatic efforts before using military force.

The Bush administration had hoped the congressional action would fortify the U.S.- and British-backed effort at the United Nations. France, Russia and China, the Security Council’s other veto-capable permanent members, remain opposed to a resolution authorizing military action if it refuses to cooperate with inspectors. France has preferred a separate resolution to be debated afterward.

In his speech, Bush spelled out several ways Saddam has avoided compliance with U.N. resolutions on weapons of mass destruction and made it clear his patience was running out.

“I have not ordered use of force. I hope the use of force will not become necessary. Yet, confronting the threat posed by Iraq is necessary by whatever means that requires,” he said.

© 2002 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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