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Bush to Give Hussein 48 Hours to Go Into Exile - 2003-03-18


In less than one hour President Bush will deliver an ultimatum (0100 UT) giving Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein 48 hours to leave Iraq.

But President Saddam has already rejected the call, saying his country once possessed weapons of mass destruction, but has no such weapons now.

Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says he has given up almost all hope for a peaceful settlement and ordered UN employees to leave Iraq. Several countries have also closed their embassies and called their diplomats home. Iraqi civilians are also moving towards the Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq that is protected by U-S and British air patrols.

In Britain, Prime Minister Tony Blair plans to seek parliamentary approval today (Tuesday) for military action against Iraq. But the leader of his ruling Labor Party in the House of Commons -- Robin Cook -- resigned to protest the possible war.

And in Ankara, the Turkish government says it will take urgent action towards letting the United States use its military bases and airspace in the event of a war against Iraq. Australia says it will take part in U-S-led military action against Iraq. But Canada says it will NOT participate without U-N authorization.

Earlier Monday, the United States, Britain and Spain said they would not seek approval of a UN resolution authorizing force against Iraq. France and Russia, meanwhile, called for continued diplomatic efforts to resolve the Iraq crisis.

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