USA, UK press on Iraq

The information provided by the US and British governments aimed at proving Iraq’s connections to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction have raised concern among Greek officials that the USA might act against Iraq without the support of the United Nations. Officials, however, limited themselves to saying they would study the information presented separately by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and by the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency at a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Warsaw. The British dossier included a map which showed that Iraqi weapons now being developed could reach Israel, Cyprus, Greece and Turkey. «We and other governments will examine this dossier to see how the threat is backed up,» Prime Minister Costas Simitis said at a meeting of EU and Asian leaders in Copenhagen. «We believe that if unilateral intervention becomes the order of the day, then great dangers will be created for the international community,» he said, repeating Greece’s position. «The United Nations was established precisely so that there would be a single decision on these issues.» British Ambassador David Madden gave Foreign Minister George Papandreou a copy of his government’s dossier and a letter from Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. «Mr Papandreou repeated the position of the Greek government that Iraq must respect the UN’s decisions and that all efforts must be made to find a diplomatic solution through the procedures of the UN Security Council,» Foreign Ministry spokesman Panayiotis Beglitis said. «The British report will be studied by the responsible ministries.» The government, however, was worried that at the Copenhagen meeting only France and China agreed that decisions on Iraq must be made through the UN. Secondly, Papandreou was informed that at the General Affairs Council meeting in Brussels on Monday, Britain will ask EU countries to align themselves with the USA and voice support for intervention in Iraq even without a UN resolution. Sources said the briefing given by the CIA’s John McLaughlin in Warsaw held more evidence than the British one concerning Iraq’s possible use of biological and chemical weapons. «We, as Greece and as the EU, will evaluate the results of the two reports before we judge them,» Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said. A meeting of EU defense ministers on Crete next week will also discuss this.

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