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2ND LD: U.S., Britain, Spain to hold summit in Azores.

WASHINGTON, March 14 Kyodo

(EDS: ADDING FLEISCHER QUOTES 4TH-5TH PARAS)

U.S. President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar will meet in Portugal on Sunday in an 11th-hour diplomatic effort to get a U.N. resolution that would effectively authorize a war on Iraq, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Friday.

Bush will depart Sunday morning for the summit, which will take place in Azores, the Portuguese island in mid-Atlantic Ocean, Fleischer said.

Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell will speak to reporters at the White House Rose Garden at 10 a.m.

Fleischer described the hastily arranged summit meeting as a ''last bit of diplomacy'' to muster a majority at the U.N. Security Council for a vote on Iraq.

''We are still pursuing the vote next week,'' Fleischer said.

The United States, Britain and Spain, the three sponsors of a second Iraq resolution, are facing difficulties crafting a U.N. resolution that would attract at least nine votes needed for passage at the Security Council in the absence of a veto by any permanent member.

Powell suggested Thursday the United States may walk away from the U.N. Security Council without seeking a vote on a resolution authorizing using force to disarm Iraq.

''The options remain go for a vote and see what members say or not go for a vote,'' Powell said in congressional testimony on Thursday.

''We are still talking to the members of the council to see what is possible with respect to coalescing around a position that wouldn't draw a veto,'' Powell said.

If Bush stops seeking a U.N. Security Council vote, the U.S. military is likely to start attacking Iraq after Bush delivers his own ultimatum to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

At the U.N. headquarters in New York, Spanish Ambassador to the United Nations Inocencio Arias said Thursday no vote on a war-authorizing resolution will take place Friday or Saturday.

Fleischer said Thursday Bush was ''going the last mile'' in diplomacy but warned that Iraq will be disarmed ''no matter what the end is'' to the last-ditch diplomatic efforts.

The U.S. and Britain have been engaged in intense diplomatic efforts to win nine votes necessary at the U.N. Security Council to adopt a war-authorizing resolution.

Seeking a compromise in the council, Britain unveiled a new proposal Wednesday setting a series of benchmarks Iraq must meet to prove it is disarming.

Bush spoke separately with Blair over the phone Thursday to discuss the resolution.

At the 15-member U.N. Security Council, the U.S., Britain, Spain and Bulgaria support a war-authorizing resolution, but France, Russia, China, Germany and Syria oppose it.

France and Russia have threatened to use their veto if such a resolution is put to a vote.

Angola, Cameroon, Guinea, Chile and Mexico are reportedly undecided.

Pakistan is also officially undecided, but senior governing party officials said Monday the cabinet decided to abstain from voting on any U.S.-backed resolution authorizing war.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Mar 17, 2003
Words:506
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