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UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ Facing strong opposition from dozens of nations, the United States has backed down from its demand that a new U.N. resolution must authorize military force if Baghdad fails to cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors, diplomats told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Instead, the United States is now floating a compromise that would give inspectors a chance to test Iraq's will to cooperate on the ground. The new compromise also drops tough wording explicitly threatening Iraq upfront, said the diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Diplomats said France, which opposed the threat of force in the original U.S. draft proposal, was studying the new offer amid a flurry of diplomatic activity aimed at solving an impasse among the Security Council powers on Iraq.