Mixed Reactions to Bush Speech
UNITED NATIONS – Senior European officials reacted positively to President Bush's call Thursday for Iraq to comply with U.N. resolutions or face the consequences.
The foreign policy chief of the closest U.S. ally, Britain's Jack Straw, said the Bush address a "tough and effective speech."
"The United Kingdom will work closely with the United States and its international partners in the Security Council to develop," further resolutions on Iraq. Straw declined to set a date for when a resolution would be ready but said "this is an urgent matter."
Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen said the president "challenged us to (live) up to our responsibilities and he was very clear on all the violations which we certainly have to take seriously."
But, he added, "we are facing a lot of very, very difficult challenges and choices, and I guess we will have to choose among a lot of bad options really."
Bush told leaders from 190 nations that "we cannot stand by and do nothing while dangers gather. We must stand up for our security and for the permanent rights and hopes of mankind."
Bush made his case against the backdrop of widespread hesitation among U.S. allies to use force against Baghdad. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan cautioned the United States against taking action without Security Council backing.
Bush offered to work in concert with other nations on a resolution "to meet our common challenge." And, he said, "if the Iraqi regime defies us again the world must move deliberately and decisively" against the Iraqi leader.
Bush's apparent willingness to act through the United Nations seemed to reflect the growing chorus of opposition to unilateral U.S. military action to topple Saddam Hussein.
"Iraq has answered a decade of U.N. demands with a decade of defiance. All the world now faces a test ... and the United Nations, a difficult and defining moment. Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced ... or cast aside without consequence? Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding ... or will it be irrelevant?"
Romanian Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana welcomed Bush's speech and stood firmly behind the U.S. position on Iraq.
"We support the United States and its allies in NATO. For us, it's very important to see this threat to security addressed"
But in an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America," Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he worried American involvement in Iraq could diminish attention that was needed to continue eradicating the Taliban and Al Qaeda from the country and rebuilding its defenses and infrastructure.
Karzai, who spoke before Bush's address, said he wanted a better life for the Iraqi people but said any action by the United States should be done with the agreement and participation of the Arab world.
In Germany -- where the government has been Europe's staunchest opponent of an attack on Iraq -- Finance Minister Hans Eichel warned that a military campaign on Baghdad was the only thing that could wreck Germany's economic recovery.
Iraq is accused of maintaining stocks of chemical and biological weapons while seeking to develop nuclear weapons, and Bush insists Saddam must be ousted because of the threat he will use the arms. Iraq says it has ended its programs for weapons of mass destruction. Talks with the United Nations on resuming arms inspections -- blocked by Baghdad for nearly four years -- have stalemated.
Baghdad says it is willing to talk to the United Nations about readmitting weapons inspectors, but says the talks must also deal with lifting sanctions and other aspects of the world's standoff with Iraq. Annan has refused this, saying Iraq must first let inspectors back in unconditionally before the other issues can be addressed.
Under U.N. resolutions, sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait cannot be lifted until inspectors verify Baghdad has ended programs to develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.