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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Showdown Iraq: Differences Said To Be Narrowing In Security Council

Aired November 1, 2002 - 12:03   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Differences are, as Suzanne just said, said to be narrowing among the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, four of whom are eagerly awaiting the latest rewrite from the fifth.
Richard Roth, our senior United Nations correspondent, is covering all of these details very, very closely. He's joining us from New York -- Richard.

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR UNITED NATIONS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, the members of the U.N. Security Council, of course, don't have a vote in the U.S. elections, but they have a big, crucial vote on the Iraq resolution. But they are watching Election Day, and everybody's kind of resigned to the fact that any new resolution won't be voted on until after Election Day next Tuesday.

But until then, every meeting, every comment, widely interpreted and analyzed, as the U.S. seeks a unanimous vote, unlikely to get it, because Syria is unlikely to budge. But they definitely want to avoid a veto from any of the permanent powers.

Today in New York, Hans Blix, chief United Nations weapons inspector, held a meeting with the so-called elected 10, those without veto powers. Here's Mr. Blix entering the meeting, which was requested by the Syrians, despite their opposition to the U.S. resolution.

Blix is going to play a key role, because if he can assure countries like Mexico, whose ambassador you see here, then the U.S. will be able to get widespread support. Many countries looking for Blix to tell them if he has any problems with the resolution, including the ambassador here from Ireland, and Blix so far seems to appreciate the tough language the U.S. has pushed for.

So far, though, Blix stays clear of the differences Suzanne Malveaux mentioned regarding hidden triggers in the resolution. The U.S. will submit some tweaks to the new, revised resolution, and then the showdown should come next weak. But many expect abstentions at best from France or Russia, but it's most likely that France in the end would go along; Paris still wanting to show it's a main player on the world stage -- Wolf.

BLITZER: There's almost always, as you well know, Richard, an Arab member on the Security Council; Syria this time around. Will the Syrian government be able to make a decision on its own on how to vote? Or is there a lot of effort on the part of moderate, more radical Arab states to weigh in and get the Syrians to represent the Arab consensus?

ROTH: It's hard to say how Syria will go, because a few months ago on key Mideast votes, the Syrian ambassador left the room, almost unprecedented, refused to even take part in a Security Council meeting. There wasn't even a vote registered. Then the next meeting, Syria abstained.

Syria, though, has been cooperating with the U.S. on terrorism. A lot of these countries are so-called positioning for victory after the vote, so that they can place a claim on the U.S. for further aid and other coordination; Mexico, a key trading partner with the U.S. A lot of people are going to have to live with the ramifications of this vote later. Syria, though, is a very hard nut to crack on the Council. It still could abstain, despite the urgings -- as what happened in March -- of its Arab brethren.

BLITZER: Richard Roth, he's watching this for us here on CNN. Thanks, Richard, for that report.

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