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IN THE NEWS - Iraq War Plans and Protests - 2003-02-21

Broadcast: February 22, 2003

This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program, IN THE NEWS.

Planning for a possible war against Iraq continued this week. So did anti-war protests. These included a march on Thursday by thousands of people in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.

Last Saturday millions of people protested in Asia, Europe, the United States and Canada. People in the Middle East and other nations also held demonstrations.

Technology has given activists a new way to organize worldwide protests against war. Many protesters were responding to a campaign for peaceful demonstrations organized on the Internet.

In the United States, a coalition of groups is asking people to protest electronically to the White House and Congress next week. The national director of an organization called "Win Without War" called for a “virtual protest” on Wednesday. The organizers want people to send their opinions to national leaders by e-mail, telephone and fax machines.

At the United Nations this week, the United States and Britain worked on a second resolution on Iraq to propose in the Security Council. Officials said it could contain a date by which Iraqi President Saddam Hussein must obey the November resolution to disarm or face military action.

President Bush has said the United States might lead a coalition to act without a second resolution. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said this week that United States forces are ready if Mister Bush orders an attack. More than one-hundred-thousand American and British troops were reported in the Persian Gulf area.

Also this week, NATO approved the deployment of some defensive weapons to Turkey before a possible war. Talks continued about the use of Turkish bases by American troops. With bases in Turkey, up to forty-thousand troops could invade Iraq by land from the north.

France, Russia and China continued to oppose armed intervention in Iraq. They want to let U-N weapons inspectors finish looking for chemical, biological or nuclear programs. These three nations are permanent members of the Security Council. So any one of them could veto a resolution. France’s President Jacques Chirac said another U-N resolution is not needed at this time.

Germany also wants diplomatic efforts to continue. The Germans said they might withdraw their peacekeeping troops in Afghanistan if a war in Iraq worsens tensions in the area. Germany and the Netherlands currently hold joint command of almost five-thousand international peacekeepers around Kabul.

Secretary of State Colin Powell criticized countries that want more time for U-N inspections. He said these countries fear taking responsibility for a possible war. President Bush's National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice also criticized calls to extend U-N weapons inspections. She said these calls have weakened pressure against Saddam Hussein.

This VOA Special English In the News was written by Jerilyn Watson. This is Steve Ember.