Russian President Vladimir Putin says it would be a "grave error" for the United States to attack Iraq without U-N consent.
He added that Russia - a permanent member of the U-N Security Council - might use its veto to stop what he calls "an unreasonable use of force." But Mr. Putin says at present, he sees no need for Russia to use the veto.
Mr. Putin, speaking on French television, also defended the proposal by France, Russia and Germany to strengthen U-N weapons inspections to find a peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis.
In Washington, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says the United States remains hopeful that a new resolution authorizing military action can be passed.
In London, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw dismissed the European proposal to expand U-N weapons inspections. He says no inspection team can determine if Iraq has been disarmed unless Baghdad cooperates.
Mr. Straw added that the case for a U-N resolution authorizing the use of force would be overwhelming if the top U-N weapons inspectors say Iraq is still not fully cooperating. The inspectors are to report to the Security Council Friday, following their recent talks with Iraqi officials in Baghdad.
On Monday, President Bush dismissed Iraq's pledge to allow the use of American U-2 surveillance planes to help U-N arms inspectors look for weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Bush said the pledge is yet another effort by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to stall for time -- adding that such efforts have been successful for 12 years.
Meanwhile, an envoy of Pope John Paul (Cardinal Roger Etchegaray) has arrived in Baghdad with what he says is a message of peace from the pontiff to President Saddam. Pope John Paul has voiced his opposition to a U-S-led war against Iraq. Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister, Tareq Aziz, is scheduled to meet with the pope at the Vatican on Friday.