taking sides on iraq dilemma

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    Taking sides in Iraq dilemma

    AUSTRALIA: Australia said it will deploy troops and equipment, even though it had not yet officially decided to support a US-led attack.

    BRITAIN: London and Washington have stood shoulder-to-shoulder since the September 11 attacks on the United States, and Britain has signalled it is ready for war if Iraq breaches the latest UN Security Council resolution aimed at ensuring it has no weapons of mass destruction.

    CANADA: Canadian Foreign Minister Bill Graham said that the US would have no justification for attacking Iraq now because UN inspectors have not had enough time to complete their work.

    Prime Minister Jean Chretien said last week that Canada would stick by the UN but declined to say whether there were any circumstances under which Canadian troops might join a unilateral US attack.

    ISRAEL: Israel has said it would abstain from taking part in any US coalition out of recognition of the "sensitivities" in the region, but reserves the right to respond if attacked. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein fired Scuds at the Jewish state during the 1991 Gulf War. Israeli and US forces have been holding joint air defence exercises this week.

    ITALY: Italy, while always stressing the need for the United Nations to sanction any move against Iraq, has been more supportive of US positions on Iraq than other European countries. Last month it said it would let the United States use its airspace and bases if Washington decided to attack Iraq.

    JAPAN: Although Japan's pacifist constitution bars it from taking an active part in any military action outside its borders, it is expected to find ways to back its most important ally, the United States, in the event of an attack.

    KUWAIT: Freed from Iraqi occupation by a US-led coalition in the 1991 Gulf War, Kuwait has offered all possible help. Kuwait is likely to be a launchpad for a US invasion of Iraq.

    SPAIN: Spain said publicly for the first time on Thursday it would allow the United States to use Spanish bases to support a possible military strike on Iraq.

    Foreign Minister Ana Palacio refused to be drawn on whether Spain would support an attack on Iraq without a UN resolution authorising force and whether Spain would allow use of its troops in any conflict.


    Nato: Nato on Wednesday postponed a decision on whether to prepare supporting measures in any US-led war against Iraq after France and Germany objected.


    CHINA: China said on Thursday that its position on the Iraq crisis was close to France and it was worried and uneasy about the large-scale military build-up.

    FRANCE/GERMANY: France's UN ambassador reiterated on Thursday that Paris wanted to give UN inspectors more time and saw no present need for a Security Council resolution backing war on Baghdad.

    France and Germany have said they were both determined to avoid a conflict in Iraq. Germany has made clear it will not vote for any United Nations resolution seeking authority for war.

    France, which has veto powers, has not said how it will vote but stresses it will co-operate closely with Germany.

    RUSSIA: Russian President Putin, lining up behind France, Germany and China, told US President Bush that the world had to hear from UN inspectors before any military action against Iraq.

    Earlier Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said that there was no justification at present for US action against Baghdad.

    Russia, which has deep economic interests in Iraq, has striven to avert unilateral US action against Baghdad.

    SAUDI ARABIA: Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday there was no pressing need for a US-led war on Iraq, calling instead for diplomacy to take its course.

    Saudi Arabia, a traditional ally of the United States in the Gulf and the world's largest oil exporter, has yet to make clear what, if any, support it will provide to US forces in the event of a war against its neighbour.

    Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said on Wednesday Arab states should be given a chance to try to resolve the crisis peacefully even if the United Nations authorised military action.

    SYRIA: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has told US Middle East envoy William Burns that Iraq's neighbours will do their utmost to prevent a war against Baghdad.

    TURKEY: Turkey has opposed war, fearing economic and social turmoil as well as popular disapproval, but may ultimately be hard pressed to deny help to its close Nato ally.


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