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[casi] Bush calls Putin to discuss Iraq


Posted on Thu, Nov. 07, 2002

Bush calls Putin to discuss Iraq
Associated Press

WASHINGTON - President Bush consulted Thursday with Russian President Vladimir
Putin on the eve of an expected United Nations vote on a resolution demanding that
Iraq disarm. The White House reported no commitment from Putin on the tough
measure the United States seeks.

Bush's early-morning phone call to the Russian leader came amid a final
diplomatic push for tough new weapons inspections, backed by threats of force if
Saddam Hussein continues to skirt his disarmament obligations.

The administration expected a vote on a new U.S. draft resolution on Iraq
Friday. Russia, France and China have resisted the American language.

White House spokesman Sean McCormack said "both leaders agreed on the need to
reach agreement on a strong new resolution that could lead to peaceful disarmament
of Iraq through cooperation with the United Nations" and international inspectors.

He reported no assurances from Putin on the matter, or whether Bush had liked
what he heard.

Bush reiterated his desire to work with the United Nations on this issue and
the importance of the United Nations acting by passing a strong resolution,"
McCormack said.

Although White House officials expect a vote Friday, but they have been
careful to avoid setting an ultimatum.

"It's coming to a close and it's time for the United Nations to move forward,"
said White House spokesman Scott McClellan, adding that "consultations are

Secretary of State Colin Powell said the administration remained open to
revisions in its tough resolution on Iraq, but emphasized that all hard-line
provisions in the draft would remain intact.

"Iraq has been a problem for years, and it is finally coming to a head,"
Powell said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Bush planned a news conference Thursday afternoon, breaking a silence he has
kept since Tuesday's sweeping gains by Republicans. He has not taken questions
from reporters in a formal setting since Oct. 26, and has not had a wide-ranging
news conference since July 8. He has had brief sessions with journalists following
meetings with world leaders.

Following the election that will switch the Senate to GOP control in January,
the president stayed out of sight Wednesday, striving to be "gracious," spokesman
Ari Fleischer said. His aides sought to play down any talk of a mandate that the
elections may have handed Bush, who treated himself to a cigar.

But there were signs that that agenda had gained momentum: Sen. Charles
Grassley, R-Iowa, set to resume chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee, was
already talking Wednesday about making the tax cuts Bush won last year permanent.
The cuts in income and estate taxes, among others, are set to expire after a

The president and his economic team have decided to hold off on an
almost-ready-to-go bundle of new tax cuts until the GOP formally takes over
Congress in January, an administration official said.

The official said the White House will try to get lame-duck Senate approval of
a Homeland Security Department and guarantee terrorism insurance to businesses.

Behind the scenes, White House officials wrestled with the nuts and bolts of
the GOP's new status in the Senate. Many were still shaking off fatigue from a
long campaign in which the White House was deeply involved, and from watching
election returns deep into the night. Surprise was the order of the day in White
House corridors, one official said.

Bush's liaisons to Capitol Hill grappled earlier this week with how to get
through a "lame duck" session, a post election session that starts next week.
Wednesday, it was a whole new set of questions. Who would assume chairmanships in
the Senate?

"We literally need to sit here and sort it all out," said Trent Duffy, the
communications director at the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Thursday evening, Bush was to attend an iftar meal for Muslims, traditionally
held at the end of daylong fasts through the month of Ramadan, in the State Dining
Room at the White House. He addressed the same dinner last year.

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