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Diplomacy Over – War Imminent

The US, Britain and Spain – the coalition of the determined – have given up on diplomacy to deal with Iraq. Powell speaking now – Bush to speak tonight.

    An unpopular second resolution for the U.N. Security Council that would have set a firm deadline to disarm will not be tendered, Britain’s representative said, noting France’s staunch opposition to such a measure.

    The White House said not long after the announcement that the “diplomatic window has closed” and that President Bush will address the U.S. Monday evening at 8 p.m. Eastern. Secretary of State Colin Powell will hold a press conference at 10:45 a.m. Eastern.

    The 60 United Nations weapons inspectors are expected to shortly leave Iraq. Journalists are also quitting Baghdad on Monday.

    The U.S. has by most measures an adequate fighting force to begin a military campaign that would not only unseat the dictator but begin a long-term commitment to Iraq, and the oil-rich region. More mechanized and airborne forces are arriving this week as the U.S. Navy repositions its ships to the Red Sea.

    The developments follow a brief meeting on the Azores Islands with heads of government from the U.S., Spain, Portugal and Britain. The meeting provided a stage for Bush to announce that Monday would represent a “moment of truth” and produced a formal measure of what the participants termed “transatlantic solidarity.”

    In the Mideast, other signs pointed toward a coming conflict. The U.S. State Department gave an order on Sunday evening for nonessential personnel and family to leave Israel, Kuwait and Syria. Germany and Britain have already ordered citizens to leave Iraq. [CBS MarketWatch]

Powell said he still has confidence in the UN – diplomats have to lie sometimes. He just said “this is a test the Security Council did not meet.”

Powell just confirmed “the time for diplomacy has past” – he blames the French. He isn’t the only one:

    British Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock singled out France for threatening to veto the resolution, which would have given Iraq an ultimatum to disarm by Monday or face military action.

    “We have had to conclude that council consensus will not be possible,” Greenstock said, flanked by U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte.

    Negroponte said he thought the vote would have “been close.”

    “We regret that in the face of an explicit threat to veto, the vote-counting became a secondary consideration,” Negroponte said.

    Moments later, French ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said that in one-on-one consultations in the past hours “the majority of the council confirmed they do not want a use of force.” [AP]

NBC News pulling its TV crew from Iraq:

    NBC News, concerned that a war with Iraq could be imminent, is removing its six-member television crew from Baghdad, a network spokeswoman said.

    The decision was prompted by comments from the Bush administration indicating that a military conflict could begin within days, the spokeswoman, Allison Gollust, told The New York Times in Monday’s editions.

    The administration has advised journalists to leave Baghdad, but NBC would be the first major television network to remove its staff voluntarily from the Iraqi capital.

    The Fox News Channel was expelled from the city last month by the Iraqi government.

    NBC would likely still be able to get coverage from Baghdad from Peter Arnett, the former CNN correspondent who now reports for MSNBC, NBC’s sister cable network. [AP]

UN inspectors bugging out of Iraq:

    Several United Nations weapons inspectors checked out of their hotels in Baghdad on Monday, witnesses said, ahead of a possible evacuation as the United States prepared for military action against Iraq.

    At the Burj al-Hayat hotel, six inspectors loaded their bags into cars. Hotel staff said they were not sure how many others were leaving as some had paid their bills two days ago.

    Inspectors were also seen checking out of Rimal Hotel.

    “Everyone has to be prepared to leave,” one of them said, adding that he had not yet seen any directive to do so.

    U.N. officials said the chief weapons inspectors would tell the Security Council later on Monday that their teams would leave Iraq within 24 hours.

    A transport carrier is stationed at Baghdad airport ready to evacuate U.N. staff, U.N. sources said. A second Boeing 747 jet is stationed on the runway in Larnaca airport in Cyprus on standby to pick up U.N. personnel if necessary. [Reuters]

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