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Key Developments Concerning Iraq

March 17, 2003

Developments in the Iraq crisis:

_ The United States advised U.N. weapons inspectors to begin pulling out of Baghdad in the clearest sign yet that war with Iraq is imminent.

_ British Prime Minister Tony Blair called an emergency Cabinet meeting on the crisis in Iraq as he struggled to contain a rebellion within his governing Labor Party by lawmakers opposed to military action without U.N. backing.

_ The United States and Britain urged their citizens to leave Kuwait immediately, citing the risk of chemical or biological attack by Iraq or by terrorists.

_ French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin reiterated France’s threat to use its veto in the Security Council to block a resolution that paves the way to war.

_ Diplomats prepared for a United Nations debate after a one-day summit at which President Bush and three allied leaders bluntly demanded that Iraq rid itself of banned arms swiftly and completely.

_ France called for an emergency U.N. ministerial meeting on Tuesday to set a timetable for Iraq’s peaceful disarmament, ignoring a Monday deadline set by the United States and three allies for the United Nations to authorize war against Baghdad.

_ Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov said that a U.S.-back resolution authorizing war has ``no chances″ of passage at the Security Council.

_ U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix was also ignoring the threat of a possibly imminent war and was preparing to give the Security Council a 30-page report listing about a dozen key remaining disarmament tasks that Iraq should complete in the coming months.

_ Gen. Tommy Franks , the commander who would lead a U.S. invasion of Iraq, was in Kuwait for talks with his generals and to meet with Kuwaiti officials.

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