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T&T does not support U.S war on Iraq
Posted: Thursday, March 20, 2003

Speaking at a press conference today, Minister of foreign affairs, Knowlson Giff said: "If one went back to the provisions of the UN system - where the weak(er) are supposed to be protected from the strong(er) - one would expect that the justification for any assault on any member of the United Nations should be fully debated and aired within that body. "And if that process were not complete, then there is every reason to believe that something unjust took place," he said.

Mr Giff said, the government supported the UN route and that process had not been exhausted to warrant this assault.

US warns Caribbean
Says special UN meeting would hurt interest
Observer Reporters
Thursday, March 20, 2003

THE United States has told Caribbean countries, including Jamaica, that it would frown deeply on their participation in a proposed special meeting of the United Nations General Assembly where America's imminent war against Iraq would likely be condemned.

Foreign ministry officials last night confirmed that the US Embassy in Kingston had verbally passed on a message from Washington that the Bush administration would prefer that Jamaica stay away if the General Assembly is in fact called into session.

"My understanding is that we were contacted by the US Embassy asking us to refrain from giving support in relationship to what they understand to be a General Assembly meeting," junior foreign minister, Delano Franklyn, told the Observer. "We have the matter under consideration."

But in Barbados, diplomatic sources suggested that the matter had gone much further than a verbal request.

The State Department, they said, had sent an urgent note to regional governments stressing that the US would see the region's participation in such a meeting as "inimical to its national interest".

It was not clear whether the Americans threatened sanctions if the region defied their request and attended the meeting, if it is held.

Last night, US Embassy spokesperson Orna Blum, could not elaborate on the US position -- whether delivered verbally or in writing.

"I haven't seen the document," she said. "I don't have any information on that."

The expected General Assembly meeting, which the Americans were trying to pre-empt, was apparently one floated at the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Malaysia last month, which was attended by Prime Minister P J Patterson and other regional leaders.

At the time, the UN Security Council was deadlocked over US attempts to gain a resolution authorising war against Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, ostensibly for his failure to disarm.

America, in the face of resistance, led by France, abandoned its effort this week, deciding to go it alone with the backing of Tony Blair's Britain.

However, decision on a General Assembly meeting was not concretised and regional diplomats said yesterday that it was still in the realm of speculation.

"To my knowledge, that speculation has not gelled into any kind of practical action," Franklyn said. "...If there is no meeting of the General Assembly it means that the note will be of no effect. But if there will be a meeting... what has been sent to us is something that we are giving consideration to."

It is believed that most other Non-Aligned countries received from the United States similar communication to what was sent to Caribbean governments.

Patterson would likely have known about the US request before his statement on Tuesday rejecting that America, and its close ally, Britain, had made a credible case for war against Iraq and regretting their decision not to continue with diplomacy to effect the disarming of Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction in accordance with Security Council Resolution 1441.

Franklyn suggested that the US Embassy telephone call -- he did not say by whom to whom -- was made on Monday, apparently hours before President George Bush gave Saddam 48 hours to leave his country or face attack from America's so-called "coalition of the willing".

While insisting that Iraq had to be disarmed, Patterson said that it had to be done under the umbrella of the UN and warned that unilateral action would "undermine the integrity of the United Nations and weaken the multilateral approach to peace and security".

Jamaica's position was consistent with that of other Caribbean Community states. In Bridgetown, for instance, Barbados' foreign minister, Mia Mottley, in an address coinciding with Patterson's, had told the Parliament that the US decision to go to war outside the ambit of the UN had placed "the rule of law under severe threat" and endangered the multilateral process.

-- Rickey Singh in Barbados and Observer reporters in Kingston

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