Bush speech wins cautious international welcome

By Deborah Seward The Associated Press
Wednesday October 09, 2002

MOSCOW — President Bush’s call for greater pressure on Iraq won guarded support in Asia and Australia on Tuesday, but his threats failed to overcome widespread skepticism in Europe, where most nations are deeply concerned by the prospects of war. 

Iraq said Bush’s address Monday night aimed to justify an “illegitimate” attack on it. Iraqis and other Arabs said the speech showed Washington’s determination for war, but the Egyptian and Jordanian governments said they were pleased by Bush’s statement that war was not “imminent or unavoidable.” 

Britain was the exception in Europe to the prevailing lack of enthusiasm for Bush’s tough line. Prime Minister Tony Blair said he shared “the same analysis” of the threat posed by Iraq and that both countries wanted the United Nations to make clear its determination to disarm Iraq. 

Bush’s speech Monday night rounded up much of the administration’s case for an assault on Iraq, with Bush calling Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein a “murderous tyrant.” He said Saddam may be planning to attack the United States with biological or chemical weapons and could have a nuclear bomb in less than a year. 

Bush said he would “act with the full power of the United States military” against Saddam unless declare and destroy all of its weapons of mass destruction, end support for terrorism and cease persecution of its civilians. 

The speech was seen in part as an attempt to rally reluctant allies abroad. Russia and France, which like the United States hold veto powers on the U.N. Security Council, underlined that they still oppose Washington’s efforts for a U.N. resolution imposing strict demands on Baghdad for weapons inspectors and threatening use of force against Iraq. 

In Russia, Deputy Foreign Ministry Yuri Fedotov, although not reacting directly to Bush’s speech, told the Interfax news agency that the resolution proposed by the United States was disingenuous.