US trying to win round Security Council waverers

13 March 2003
Despite US insistence that war on Iraq does not require a second UN resolution to disarm Saddam Hussein by force, Washington is conducting intensive diplomacy to win a majority of votes for a second resolution in the UN Security Council. Such a resolution is critical for the domestic position of UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. On 12 March, the White House said that it was close to securing sufficient support and it has been making clear how much states have to lose from opposing the US.

US ambassador to Russia, Alexander Vershbow, in an interview with the Izvestiya newspaper, issued a veiled warning that Moscow would suffer politically and economically through failing to support the resolution. 'It makes a great difference whether Russia decides to use its veto or abstain,' he said. Speaking of co-operation between the two countries in fields like energy and security, he said: 'It will be a great pity if progress in these areas is halted or actually reversed because of serious disagreements over Iraq.' US officials quoted in London's Financial Times said that

Angola, one of six 'swing voters' on the council, is close to being deemed to have met the requirements to join the a US trade preference programme. Luanda has previously been excluded from the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act on the grounds that the country failed to meet human rights and labour rights criteria. The US is Angola's biggest foreign aid donor and source of foreign investment.

Mexico, another undecided voter, in under intense pressure to vote with the US, with whom it conducts 80 per cent of its trade. However, the majority of the Mexican public opposes war. President Vincente Fox is in almost daily contact with President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell. Some argue that a 'yes' vote could further a key government aim of gaining legal status for the millions of Mexican migrants currently in the US. Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez has said that Mexico will not disclose its decision before the resolution is brought to a vote.

Chile is another swing voter with a lot to lose from going against US wishes. Congress is scheduled to vote on a free trade agreement (FTA) for Santiago later in the year and the government has openly expressed fear of economic reprisals if it votes the wrong way. However, the public opposes war, endangering the already fragile position of President Ricardo Lagos.

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