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Europe Still Split On Iraq

A deeply divided Europe struggled Monday to close a rift over Iraq and speak with one voice to Saddam Hussein, though leaders were encouraged after resolving a month-long NATO deadlock on defending Turkey.

European Union leaders held an emergency summit amid warnings that continued disagreement over Iraq could impede European integration and dilute the continent's influence on the world stage.

The stalemate could also dim U.S. hopes for a second resolution authorizing force. CBS News Correspondent Peter Maer reports that the timetable for such a resolution is — as the administration has said for some time — weeks not months.

European foreign ministers meeting to lay the groundwork for the leaders were united that Iraq must disarm. However, with Washington pushing for military action, differences remained over how much more time to give U.N. weapons inspectors.

Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief, called for more inspections for weapons of mass destruction — a position that was backed by millions of anti-war protesters around the world this weekend.

"I think everybody has recognized that war is the last resort," Solana said. "I think everyone agrees war may be necessary at a given moment but we have not at this point reached the time for that."

But British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Washington's key ally, stood firm, saying, "Time is running out."

The United Nations "set out very clearly that this was the final opportunity for Iraq to comply," Straw said. "That involves hard decisions for everyone across Europe. It is only by fighting tyranny that we are able to enjoy the freedoms that we do."

However, Straw acknowledged that going to war without public support would be "very difficult." Two days after at least 750,000 people marched through London to protest the possible war, Straw conceded: "We have to take account of public opinion."

Each camp remained firm, with France and Germany leading the anti-war drive, insisting there is no case for military action yet against Saddam Hussein.

The French foreign minister appeared defiant as he arrived for the meeting, praising Belgium's stand supporting U.N. efforts to avert war during a contentious NATO meeting over defensive planning.

"Let me just say one thing. I'm happy today to be here in Belgium, a courageous country," said French Foreign Minister Dominique De Villepin.

The view for extending inspections was echoed by the Finnish, Swedish and Irish foreign ministers, who have been wavering between concerns over the vast military buildup and offending the United States.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, whose country backs France, said he was optimistic a common position could be reached exerting pressure on Iraq.

Acknowledging the deep divide, Greek officials say they were not even drafting a proposed statement ahead of the summit, preferring instead to wait to see what emerges from Monday's discussions.

"We do not want dividing lines between the EU countries," Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis said Sunday in Athens. "We all want peace and we all want to try and find a more practical way of promoting peace."

The divisions within Europe, however, were reflected across town at NATO headquarters, where Belgium, France and Germany had held out for a month against 14 European allies — as well as the United States and Canada — over starting defensive measures to protect Turkey in case of an Iraq war. The stalemate opened the biggest rift in NATO's 53-year history.

Germany and Belgium dropped their objections late Sunday, but the only way NATO got the deal was by going to its Defense Planning Committee, which Paris withdrew from in 1966. Paris participates only in political consultations.

The U.S. prospects for an invasion looked even thornier Monday, when Turkey's prime minister said it would be difficult to convince parliament to allow tens of thousands of U.S. troops into the country before officials agree on the conditions of the deployment.

Parliament had been expected to vote Tuesday and Washington has been warning Turkey that time is running out. A delay could hamper U.S. war plans to open a northern front in an Iraq war.

In Iraq, meanwhile, U.N. weapons inspectors visited three factories involved in missile production Monday, Iraqi officials said. One of the plants — Al-Mutaseem — carries out final tests on the Al Fatah missile.

Last week, chief inspector Hans Blix said his team needed more information on the Al Fatah before deciding if its range exceeded the 90-mile limit imposed on Iraqi missiles after the 1991 Gulf war.

Concern over Iraq's missile program increased after international experts found that the Al-Samoud 2, a liquid propellant "mini-Scud" ballistic missile, went beyond the U.N.-mandated range.

The New York Times reported that the United States plans a set of final specific tests over the next two weeks of Saddam's willingness to disarm, including destroying missiles with greater range than the United Nations.

The tests also include allowing weapons inspectors to interview Iraqi scientists without government "minders" present and permitting unconditional overflights by U.S., European and Russian reconnaissance aircraft, the newspaper said.

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