The United States prepared to present a revised version of its tough new draft resolution on Iraq to the UN Security Council as Saddam Hussein met top military commanders to prepare for war.
The United States is expected to return to the Security Council with a revised draft, taking into account comments from other council members in four full rounds of consultations since October 23.
Progress has been made in six weeks of talks between key council members, but fundamental differences persist between the United States and its opponents on the issue, a council diplomat said in New York.
France and Russia have strongly criticized the US draft, charging it would
give Washington the go-ahead to launch a military strike on Iraq, which the United
States suspects of developing weapons of mass destruction.
Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz said Monday that it was "not necessary for the Security Council to adopt a new resolution because those that exist are sufficient."
Aziz accused the United States of pushing for a new resolution "to carry out
its threats of attacking Iraq and provoking a radical change in the region to
realize its illegal ambitions and those of the Zionist entity."
Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri said Sunday the US-drafted proposal under consideration at the council amounted to a "declaration of war" against both the United Nations and Baghdad.
"It is not only Iraq which rejects this resolution," Sabri said. "All the international community rejects this thirst for war, blood and destruction, this will to kill which dominates this fiendish administration in Washington."
Aziz made his comments while receiving Austrian far-right strongman Joerg Haider, who warned for his part that "any (US) aggression will cause serious fallout in the region and threaten its stability and consequently the interests of countries throughout the world, notably in Europe."
Haider, who arrived in Baghdad on Saturday, said his visit was "in solidarity with the Iraqi people in the face of aggression."
Syria, currently a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, said Monday it would vote against the US draft resolution.
"Syria will vote against the US draft," Information Minister Adnan Omran told the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat. "Any excuses used by the United States for its aggression are inadmissible."
Omran, whose country is opposed to any US-led military strike on Iraq, said it would be a "miracle" if such a campaign was now avoided given that the administration of US President George W. Bush had "already taken" the decision to launch an attack.
Saddam Hussein met late Sunday with top commanders and other senior officials, including his two powerful sons, Uday and Qusay, to discuss military readiness and other security issues in the face of a possible US-led invasion.
"The president listened to a briefing on the stages achieved by the fighters and the mujahedeen .... in strengthening the capacity of Iraq to resist the forces of injustice and tyranny," the official INA news agency reported.
"We are preparing ourselves as if war were to take place in one hour. We are psychologically ready," Saddam warned earlier in an interview with an Egyptian weekly, El-Osboa.
Amid talk of a US military buildup in the Gulf region, London's Daily Telegraph
reported Monday that Britain would this week announce the mobilization of 10,000
army reservists in preparation for a war on Iraq.
In a move not seen since the Korean War in the 1950s, a Queen's Order will
give defense chiefs widespread and highly controversial rights to call up many
more people than would normally be available, the paper said.
The special order will give the army the possibility of mobilizing the reservists
for an unlimited period, the report said.
A ministry of defense spokesman said that no such decision had yet been made.
But in a blow to any US plans to strike Iraq, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince
Saud al-Faisal told CNN that Saudi Arabia would not allow the United States to
use its territory or airspace to attack Iraq, even if the United Nations endorsed
© 2002 AFP