U-S Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has ordered thousands more American troops sent to the Persian Gulf to prepare for possible war with Iraq.
Mr. Rumsfeld signed the latest deployment order overnight (Saturday to Sunday), adding 27-thousand people to the 35-thousand troops dispatched late Friday. Pentagon officials say they expect around 150-thousand soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines to be stationed in the Gulf region by mid-February, in case President Bush decides to take military action to disarm Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
On Saturday, the British aircraft carrier Ark Royal set sail for the Middle East, beginning that country's largest naval deployment in 20 years.
President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair plan to hold talks after United Nations disarmament officials report later this month to the U-N Security Council on Iraqi weapons inspections.
Meanwhile, U-N teams continued searching Iraq today (Sunday) for evidence of banned nuclear, chemical and biological weapons technology, while Baghdad again leveled allegations of spying against the inspectors. Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan accused the inspectors of -- in his words -- "playing an intelligence role." The U-N has strongly denied the charges.
The French news agency quotes a senior Iraqi official (General Amer al-Saadi) as saying he hopes U-N disarmament chiefs Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei will discuss the issue during a visit to Baghdad next week.