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Rumsfeld: France, Germany are 'problems' in Iraqi conflict

McCain predicts easy victory if war comes

Rumsfeld at Wednesday’s news conference at the Foreign Press Center of the National Press Club in Washington.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld Wednesday dismissed French and German insistence that "everything must be done to avoid war" with Iraq, saying most European countries stand with the United States in its campaign to force Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to disarm.

"Germany has been a problem, and France has been a problem," said Rumsfeld, a former NATO ambassador. "But you look at vast numbers of other countries in Europe. They're not with France and Germany on this, they're with the United States."

Germany and France represent "old Europe," and NATO's expansion in recent years means "the center of gravity is shifting to the east," Rumsfeld said.

French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said Wednesday in Paris they were not convinced a war with Iraq was necessary while U.N. arms inspectors were still searching Iraq for weapons of mass destruction.

"Any decision belongs to the Security Council and the Security Council alone, which will address the issue after having examined the latest inspectors' report," Chirac said. "Secondly, as far as we're concerned, war always means failure." (Full story)

France holds a veto on the Security Council as one of its five permanent members, while Germany is a key NATO ally and will hold the council's rotating presidency in February.

"If the inspectors ask for more time, we need to give them more time," said Schroeder, who has already said he would not send German troops to a war against Iraq.

Bush warns Iraq of war crime trials

President Bush said Saddam had shown he was more interested in "playing hide and seek" than disarming.

"It's time for us to hold the world to account and for Saddam to be held to account," Bush said Wednesday in a speech in St. Louis, adding that Saddam presents a "real risk" to the world.

Just days before a report on the status of inspections will be delievered to the U.N. Security Council on Monday, Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said Iraq must take further steps to support its claim that it has disarmed, and its cooperation with inspectors is "not sufficient" so far.

U.N. officials have stressed the report would be an update, not a conclusive determination about any Iraqi weapons programs.

Nevertheless, Secretary of State Colin Powell has told Security Council members that "difficult choices" would follow the report.

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said he expects "some kind of resolution of the Iraq crisis, one way or another," within weeks.

If war comes, "We will win this conflict. We will win it easily," he said. "That does not mean we won't experience the tragedy of the loss of some American lives. We will have an opportunity to instill a democracy in Iraq which will be an example and perhaps force other nations in that region to move in the same direction."

Bush warned Iraqi military leaders Wednesday not to use weapons of mass destruction against U.S. troops or "innocent lives within Iraq." If they do, he said, "When Iraq is liberated, you will be treated, tried, and persecuted as a war criminal."

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