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         U.S. senator heads to Brussels for NATO update

         Ukraine's president expresses satisfaction with NATO summit, despite snub from alliance


         Bush warns Iraq over arms as Sunday deadline nears

         Defense minister cautions about 'aggression' against Iraq





         Senator John Edwards, who is considering a possible run for president in 2004, planned to meet Tuesday with top NATO officials in Brussels to talk about international politics and pending questions about terrorism and Iraq. The North Carolina senator was to arrive Tuesday and stay through Thursday, aides said. "He wants to confer with NATO officials about the recent expansion of the alliance and talk with allies about the situation in Iraq," said spokesman Michael Briggs. Edwards was expected to meet with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana; Gen. Ralston, NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe; and NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson, Briggs said.(AP 022231 Dec 02 GMT)


         Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said Monday that he was "satisfied" with the results of last month's NATO summit, which he attended despite the Alliance's request that he stay away amid allegations that he approved the sale of a radar system to Iraq. "We achieved the main goal, an action plan between Ukraine and NATO was signed," Kuchma told reporters after meeting Slovak President Rudolf Schuster. "It's a new stage in our relations." At the summit, NATO and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatoliy Zlenko signed an action plan to put Ukraine on track for eventual membership. During Monday's meeting, Schuster urged Ukraine to speed key reforms to advance its NATO bid. During a meeting with Ukrainian President Kuchma, Schuster called Ukraine "an honorable partner" and said his country's experience with deep political and economic reforms could help Ukraine prepare for membership in NATO, the EU and the World Trade Organization.(AP 021656 Dec 02 GMT)







         President  Bush stepped up his war of words on Iraq to come clean on whether it possessed weapons of mass destruction by a Sunday deadline set by the UN, or reject the chance of peace. Bush delivered his warning on Monday in a speech to military leaders at the Pentagon, already laying plans to go to war against Baghdad if it fails to disarm, as UN arms inspectors said they had hit a snag with Iraq over missing equipment.  "Any act of delay, deception or defiance will prove that (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein has not adopted the path of compliance, and has rejected the path of peace," said Bush.  In Denver, Vice President Cheney put Iraq in the same enemy camp as Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda.  "Either Saddam Hussein will fully comply with the United Nations...or the United States with a coalition of other nations will disarm Saddam Hussein," Cheney said.(Reuters 0027 031202 GMT)


         France's defense minister warned Monday that a war with Iraq would be viewed as an aggression by the region and said that military action is not inevitable. Michele Alliot-Marie also called on France's EU partners to contribute more to defense and security spending, despite EU limits about national budget deficits. The minister reiterated France's position that the UN Security Council alone can decide whether military action is warranted against Iraq should weapons inspectors be hampered in their mission. Any military action conducted outside UN purview "would be very badly seen in the Arab world, like an aggression," Alliot-Marie told the Western European Union Assembly, a defense forum. The defense minister said a military strike on Iraq would not necessarily solve the problem of eventual weapons of mass destruction.  Alliot-Marie also pressed fellow EU countries to contribute more to security and defense, and not use the so-called EU stability pact as an excuse for not spending. She said it was "viable" for the EU to have a 60,000-strong rapid action force before the end of 2003, adding however that "we must have the means of our ambitions."(AP 021958 Dec 02 GMT)






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