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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Showdown: Iraq -- The Azores Summit

Aired March 16, 2003 - 10:00   ET

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

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: A critical summit on the showdown with Iraq. President Bush and his key allies heading to the Azores to weigh their options. This meeting could set the stage for a final decision on war or peace.
Hello, I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington. Our live coverage will take us around the world. CNN's Chris Burns will join us from Terceira in the Azores. Dana Bash is at the White House and Jill Dougherty is in Moscow.

Well, the stage is being set at this hour for President Bush and his two key allies to talk face-to-face. Mr. Bush left Andrews Air Force Base this morning on a flight that is taking him more than half way across the Atlantic. He will huddle with Tony Blair and Jose Maria Aznar in the Azores for less than five hours. CNN's Chris Burns is with us now live from the site of the summit, Terceira.

And Chris, what are the expectations at this point for this meeting?

CHRIS BURNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, very, very low expectations. There was the word from the National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice that this was a last push, a final push for a diplomatic solution, but at the same time President Bush himself tempering that with his radio address saying that he had very, very little hope that Saddam Hussein would disarm without armed force.

Also some words from the British. Jack Straw, the foreign minister over there, is saying that war is much more possible and Jose Maria Aznar, the Spanish prime minister, saying that he believes there is no necessity to have another U.N. resolution before going to war if Saddam Hussein does not disarm without -- if he doesn't disarm on his own.

So a very, very pessimistic evaluations going into this meeting. It really doesn't bode well for any kind of a diplomatic proposal, but we'll have to wait and see. They'll be meeting for about an hour. They're at least trying to show that they are still united and coming out with separate statements about how they feel about where the direction should go.

Now, should they continue trying to push this resolution or should they declare it dead. As many diplomats at the U.N. say right now, there really is little hope. However, France and Germany and Russia are proposing perhaps a different kind of time line, but that already is being struck down by Washington. So, again, very, very little hope of a diplomatic solution. Some critics, some observers believe that this really is a war council. We'll have to see how this turns out -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Chris, there was a lot of thinking going into this meeting, but this meeting is more about helping the president, President Bush's European allies, Mr. Blair and Prime Minister Aznar, than it is about anything the United States needs.

BURNS: Well, absolutely. You might even look at Aznar and Blair as being a couple of survivors here on this island of a diplomatic shipwreck and that's what it looks like. What they need to do is try to salvage some kind of political esteem and part of that had been the resolution that President Bush agreed to push through or try to push through, anyway. And the other one is what President Bush talked about a couple of days ago, this road map for a Middle East peace process, that he is trying to revive that and Tony Blair, the British prime minister seized upon very quickly, obviously very orchestrated. Blair needs that political coverage to show that not only is this a coalition of the willing, as they call it, not only is it trying to solve the Iraqi crisis, but also the wider Middle East crisis -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Chris Burns, joining us from the Azores where they are waiting for the leaders to arrive.

With me now here in Washington to talk a little bit more about this emergency summit on Iraq, former U.S. national security adviser, Samuel Berger.

Sandy Berger, if the administration's view is that we are on the last legs of a diplomatic effort, that we are literally on the verge of war, what's the point of a meeting like this?

SANDY BERGER, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, I expect this is the pivot from a diplomatic effort that has not been successful to the preparation for war. And something that's significant often is marked by leaders getting together and at least even if they're a small group they're standing together as we make this pivot.

WOODRUFF: And what -- for President Bush, how is this going to help him as he turns to the world and says I've tried everything I can. Does this help him at all? Does it really make any difference?

BERGER: Well, I think there is a certain drama associated, obviously, with the three of them meeting as we make, I believe, this pivot to the preparation for war. One can never know. As the countdown begins, things sometimes happen, but I think this lays the predicate for then what I expect will be a speech to the nation and the issuance by the president of some implicit timeframe or explicit deadline.

WOODRUFF: I guess what I keep coming back to is if this is a signal that they've tried everything diplomatically, why is the United States meeting only with the few friends that it has? Why not meet with the people who are still -- the U.S. is still trying to persuade?

BERGER: Well, because I think the moment of diplomacy is over here. I think that there is...

WOODRUFF: You do think it's over?

BERGER: Yes, I do. I think there has been a failure here to obtain a broad coalition, a broad consensus, a failure on a last effort to get a tight timetable and a hard deadline. A number of our allies such as French -- the French apparently will not accept a hard deadline for force and I think in the absence of that now, we're basically in the beginning of the end.

WOODRUFF: Sandy Berger, former national security adviser under President Bill Clinton, you're going to be with us throughout the half hour, so I'm going to come back to you in just a few minutes. But right now I want to go to our correspondent at the White House, Dana Bash, keeping track of today's developments.

Dana, given what Sandy Berger and others are saying, that in fact, diplomacy has failed, how is the administration describing it from its perspective?

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're not describing it much differently, Judy. Actually as the president is making his way, as we speak, to the Azores, his -- really his two top men, the vice president and Colin Powell have been out talking this morning on the talk shows just about that very fact. The vice president made it very clear, first of all, that he was dismissing this idea that has come over the last 24 hours from the French, from President Jacques Chirac himself, that perhaps 30 days more is what is needed for Saddam Hussein to disarm. Cheney making it very clear that that is enough time, that already Saddam Hussein has had enough time. He also said that the time for diplomacy might be coming close to an end.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: We're close to the end, if you will, of the diplomatic efforts. We've done virtually everything we can with respect to trying to organize a second resolution in the U.N. Security Council. And clearly, the president's going to have to make a very, very difficult and important decision here in the next few days.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Now, the Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke in a taping for Wolf Blitzer's "LATE EDITION" and he made it clear that he didn't really see a lot of hope in any new diplomatic proposals coming out of this summit in the Azores and made it clear that what they are going to do, the leaders, including the president and the Spanish prime minister and the British prime minister is they're going to sit down and figure out what their options are and -- but that he doesn't think that the options are very vast. He also made clear that the White House has a lot of frustration, as Sandy Berger, was just eluding to with some key members of the Security Council, particularly the French because the White House believes that because they have not been able to have unity on the Security Council, that it sent the wrong message to Saddam Hussein.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: The curtain's coming down. We can't continue to go like this and it's unfortunate that there are members of the Council who say give it more time, give it more time and the inspections are working, but what's really working is force. Force is slowly causing him to do some things, but he's not doing thing because he has changed his basic political strategy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Now, Powell also made clear that Hans Blix's request -- excuse me, the request for Hans Blix by the Iraqis to come back one more time and to talk to them is really unnecessary. He says Blix has been there time and time again and that the time for that has probably run out.

The also -- another interesting note, Judy, is sort of a warning. Wolf asked Colin Powell if it's time for journalists and others to leave Baghdad. Colin Powell basically said yes and that it might not necessarily have anything to do with military action, but perhaps the threat of being held hostage -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Sobering -- something very sobering to think about. All right, Dana, very much, thank you. Well, you can hear the entire Colin Powell interview later today on CNN's "LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER." That's at noon Eastern, 9:00 a.m. Pacific.

While President Bush and his allies huddle in the Azores, opponents of the war in Iraq are keeping up their push for peace. A key player ion the bid to avert war is Russia. We turn now to our Moscow bureau chief, Jill Dougherty.

Jill, the Russians have been very much against going to war. Do they see any hope for diplomacy at this 11th hour?

JILL DOUGHERTY, MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF: Well, at least publicly, Judy, they say they do. They, in fact, say that they don't believe there is any justification at least at this point for military action. They believe that the inspections should continue. And as we've said, they're pushing for that meeting with the foreign ministers on Tuesday, trying to work out some sort of a timetable for Iraq to comply.

I mean, their theory really is the use of force or at least the threat of force, I should say, by the United States has been useful, that a lot of this would not have happened -- we wouldn't even be to the point where we have inspections unless there was some credible threat of force. But what they're saying is, look, it's working, why stop now? Let's speed it up. Let's make sure it goes faster. But essentially they say they want a political settlement.

WOODRUFF: So, Jill, they want a political settlement, but are they leaning on the Bush administration at this point, privately? I mean how much is known about any leverage that the Russians have at this time?

DOUGHERTY: You know, Judy, I would say the Russians have practically no leverage at this point and they realize that. I mean, it's the United States that theoretically had some leverage, but obviously, it didn't work out the way the United States wanted with Russia. In fact, if you listen to the deputy foreign minister, Yuri Fedotov, this weekend he said that second resolution that the U.S. and Spain and Britain want has no chance of passing.

So obviously, the Russians have made -- at least at this point, they've made a determination to push as hard as possible to make that resolution go away. That's been their message all along. That's what they wanted because if it came to crunch time and President Putin actually had to use the veto, it would be quite bad for Russian-U.S. relations, at least right now. So if this is taking away from them, that terrible choice they'd have to make, it's a lot easier in the long run.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jill Dougherty, CNN's bureau chief in Moscow. And we'll talk to you later on this morning where -- and I know it's late afternoon for you there. Thank you, Jill, very much.

As we were saying, with me in the studio here in Washington is former national security adviser, Sandy Berger.

Sandy, a lot of discussion today over the weekend about how diplomacy has failed. You referred to it a minute ago. Is there -- what could the administration have done differently? Could they have gotten to a different outcome?

BERGER: I think it's possible. I think there are three factors, Judy. No. 1, I think after 9/11 we see the threat differently than others, than the Europeans and others. Americans tend to resolve uncertainty in favor of acting, not inaction. The risk of inaction seems more palpable us to. For the Europeans and others, uncertainty is a reason for waiting. Second of all, some of our allies, while they have said threat of force is useful and have been unprepared to put a hard deadline on that threat and I think without a hard deadline not much has happened. And I think the last thing was -- I think our diplomacy, our efforts, have been halfhearted and heavy handed during most of this period.

WOODRUFF: Well, in line with that, there was a report this morning in "The Washington Post" about how during the first Bush administration there were dozens and dozens of calls made then secretary -- by the president to leaders around the world. Then Secretary of State James Baker traveled whereas they were making the contrast with this administration where there's been much less of an effort to reach out to the international community and say come along with us.

BERGER: Yes, I think there's been far too many thunderbolts and far too little discussion across the table. This is not -- diplomacy is not marketing. It's not simply selling your position. It's engaging to try to achieve your objective by bringing others along. And it is rather extraordinary that the United States at the pinnacle of our power has not been able to get nine members of the Security Council, including such close countries as Mexico and Chile to support us in this undertaking.

WOODRUFF: Remarkable, surprising?

BERGER: I think both.

WOODRUFF: All right. Sandy Berger with us this half hour to look at events as they unfold across the Atlantic Ocean.

We are going to be back in just a moment. We're going to go live to Baghdad to CNN's Nic Robertson to get the very latest from the Iraqi capital on Saddam Hussein's 11th hour move as war looks more imminent.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Well, if there was any doubt about it before, now, Iraq is clearly, today, a country on a war footing. Saddam Hussein, over the weekend, announced that he is dividing his country into four military districts, each of them under the command of a trusted lieutenant. CNN's Nic Robertson is in Baghdad now with the very latest.

And Nic, he's giving his own son the control of one of these districts.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Indeed. His youngest son, Qusay Saddam Hussein, has control of Baghdad, the whole central region of Iraq pretty much from the Iranian border through Baghdad, all of the way to the Jordanian border, perhaps the most strategically important sector of the country.

We've seen reaction here from people already overnight. Some people went out to buy fuel in the markets. Today, one particular vendor selling water pumps said that they'd sold 20 water pumps today alone, an unusually high sale for him. Generators also being sold. But in one up market neighborhood of Baghdad, an electronics store that had high-value items was moving those items out of the store possibly putting them away for storage, believing the possibility of looting or civil disorder could threaten their valuable stocks.

Now, that's on one hand, but on the other hand we've also seen an increase in the cooperation or at least level of information that's blowing from Iraqi officials to the U.N. weapons inspectors. The U.N. has just told us that they received a letter and some documents about Iraq's destruction, precursor agents from mustard gas. We also know earlier on in the day, Iraqi officials said they gave the U.N. photographs and video about mobile laboratories. Laboratories, they said, were for military, civilian use that were for such things as pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, food storage and preparation, these types of things.

Yesterday, the Iraqi officials gave the U.N. a list of chemical engineers involved in the chemical weapons program. So really the pace on both hands here, preparation for war and an apparent cooperation with the U.N. both increasing. However, the U.N. has been forced to withdraw some of its helicopters from Iraq, five of its Bell 212 helicopters have been pulled out to Syria on their way back to Cyprus. The insurers of those helicopters, the U.N. tells us, will want cover them while they're in Iraq. The U.N. still has three of its original fleet of eight helicopters inside Iraq. They're MI-8s. And the U.N tells us these larger helicopters will allow it to continue with the inspection work -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Nic, some of these weapons that the Iraqis are now discussing and turning over information about, are these items that they earlier said they didn't have because as we know, for the longest time, the Iraqis said they'd already turned everything over and all of the information over?

ROBERTSON: Well, no, these are items that they say are going to explain -- the people, they say, can explain how they disposed of, where and when they disposed of the chemical weapon, the agents. The documents and letters are supposed to explain just when and how and where and who was involved in the destruction of these precursor agents of mustard gas. A document handed over two days ago is supposed to explain how the U.N. can verify Iraq's accounts of its destruction of VX nerve agents. So Iraq is not saying anything new in as much as we have these stocks, come and look at them. What they're saying is this is the information outlining how we got rid of them, come and verify it. Of course, this is all material the U.N. has been demanding ever since it got here, Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Nic Robertson reporting for us live from Baghdad where it is now getting dark moving on into Sunday evening.

Still with me here in the studio in Washington, Sandy Berger, former national security adviser. If the Iraqis are turning over this information, why shouldn't that be seen as a serious effort on their part to cooperate?

BERGER: Well, Saddam Hussein is a master at the last minute temporization. As the clock strikes 12, he suddenly invites someone to come to Baghdad. He suddenly finds another document to give us. The fact is that I don't think we have seen a complete commitment by Saddam Hussein to disarm. And in the absence of a hard deadline, a tight timetable and a hard deadline for force without going back to the United Nations again, we'll simply just have these half measures.

WOODRUFF: But doesn't this or does this, I should ask, win him any sympathy, support, among any nations undecided, particularly the six so-called undecided although they've been resisting supporting the U.S. and the U.N.?

BERGER: The fact of the matter is that over the last several months, unfortunately, the issue has become as much the United States as it has become Saddam Hussein.

WOODRUFF: What do you mean?

BERGER: There seems to be as many people concerned about containing the United States, tying down the American Gulliver as there are controlling Saddam Hussein, who genuinely is a threat in the future of the United States.

WOODRUFF: How can that be? I mean if you're sitting here in the United States and you're hearing the Bush administration say we simply want to rid his country and these poor Iraqi people of this terrible tyrant leader and we're going to -- we want to see them move to democracy, move to the kind of leadership the people of that country deserve and yet around the rest of the world, you're saying many people see it as the U.S...

BERGER: Well, partly, I think we put this in the wrong context. We put this in the context of a doctrine or preemption, which sounds like it's going to be Iraq today and Iran tomorrow, Syria next week and we're going to march through the region and knock down the authoritarian oaks and plant democratic evergreens. And I think for a lot of the world that has been frightening.

Second of all, I think we have been too often preaching to the world rather than persuading the world. Diplomacy is not -- let me state my position -- if you don't agree with them -- let me state it again. It is a process of engaging and I would like to see President Bush go to Europe and travel and take on the questions of why now? There are answers to these questions, but there has not either been the reality or the appearance that we've been prepared to engage in a serious dialogue here.

WOODRUFF: And now we are literally -- well, almost literally at the 11th hour in terms of a last-minute effort to pull something out. Sandy Berger, national security adviser under President Clinton now with us to put some perspective on these events.

We're going to take a short break. When we come back, we'll go to the Pentagon to CNN's Chris Plante. Then, we'll be talking with former NATO Supreme Commander Wesley Clark about the military options.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Even as there is the appearance of diplomacy, U.S. President George W. Bush heading to an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean to meet with Prime Minister Tony Blair of Great Britain and the Prime Minister Aznar of Spain to discuss last-minute options with regard to Iraq. Military plans, meanwhile, are preceding a pace. Let's go quickly to the Pentagon and to CNN correspondent, Chris Plante.

Chris, you've been talking with U.S. officials in the region and I also want to tell you that General Wesley Clark is with us, the former supreme NATO commander, to talk about the picture on the ground right now.

Chris, to you, first, though, you've been talking to people on the ground. They are saying U.S. forces are ready to go.

CHRIS PLANTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's what they're saying, Judy. Cruise missile ships that were in the eastern Mediterranean are now in position in the Red Sea and able to fire any cruise missiles without violating anyone's airspace. The aircraft carriers are expected to stay in the eastern Mediterranean and operate from there. The ground forces in Kuwait, according to officials, are ready to go even though the 101st Airborne is not at 100 percent strength in terms of its helicopters and some of its equipment. They say that the plan as it exists now, a plan that one official called Plan S -- and I asked if they had moved on to Plan B, he said, "More like Plan S at this point." They claim the forces are ready to go any time the president gives the order.

WOODRUFF: Chris, this announcement by Saddam Hussein over the weekend that he's dividing the country up into four military regions, including one -- the one including Baghdad to be headed by his younger son. Military significance of any of this?

PLANTE: Well, it's seen for the most part as being a standard move, the kind of thing that any leader might do in the face of military invasion, but the Pentagon has in recent days been describing the senior military leadership in Iraq as somewhat brittle. They think that they've been shaken by some of the events; some psychological operations that the U.S. has engaged in have set out to deliberately rattle their cages a bit. And there is some suggestion at least that Saddam putting his son in charge rather than one of his senior military leaders of the defense of Baghdad might indicate that he does not have the kind of faith and confidence in his senior military leaders that he might want to have at a time like this.

WOODRUFF: All right, Chris Plante is with us from the Pentagon.

Also with us, as we said a moment ago, former or retired General Wesley Clark.

General Clark, what about this notion of the Iraqi leadership, military leadership, being brittle as Chris just put it. What does that say to you?

RET. GEN. WESLEY CLARK, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I think the Iraqi military leadership recognizes what's coming at it. This is a huge, huge hammer starting with air power that they can't contend with; ground forces that they know are going to be able to overwhelm them in combination with the air power. And so, they're going to lose a lot of their armed forces simply because the armed forces are going to defect. So there will be a hard core of 20 to 40,000 Iraqi troops that they're trying to retain the loyalty of and the support of, but for most of the battle they know that they're going to be not only defensive, but they're going to be decisively defeated if they ever stop their retreat. So naturally, the leadership's going to be losing heart. Saddam Hussein's going to want to put his most loyal people in charge and that's why he's put his son there.

WOODRUFF: How much of a disadvantage, General Clark, is the United States at for not having the ability to base troops in Turkey at least at this point?

CLARK: I think it's a significant disadvantage, but it's not a critical disadvantage. In other words, I don't think it's going to make a difference between success and failure. I think it does expose the United States to the charge of not being able to control as easily the violence and the tensions that are going to be present in northern Iraq. I think it gives Saddam Hussein's forces some extra security in the north because the United States won't have these strong forces there. So it's a 20 to 30 percent disadvantage but it's not a decisive disadvantage.

WOODRUFF: All right, former NATO commander, Wesley Clark.

And finally, I want to come back quickly to Sandy Berger, former national security adviser.

Given what you're hearing about the military picture, should the United States feel comfortable at this point going into Iraq?

BERGER: Well, war is always a risky enterprise, but we have an extraordinary military advantage. We have -- our military people have anticipated or at least thought about every contingency and have the best plans they possibly can have. And I believe that the military phase of this, and we certainly hope, will go decisively. I think, you know, the period after is going to be a daunting task force, but there should be no question that once the president says we're going forward, we're going to war, the overwhelming majority of the American people will support him in that action.

WOODRUFF: And that's always been the case. All right. Sandy Berger, former national security adviser, good to see you. Thanks for coming in this morning. We appreciate it.

We are going to take a short break. When we come back, former U.S. secretary of state, George Schultz. George Schultz served under President Reagan. We will also have -- go to the United Nations and look at the most recent developments at the U.N. Security Council and what's coming up. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

WOODRUFF: Well, President Bush is due to arrive in the Azores in just over an hour from now for a summit that could determine what happens next in the showdown with Iraq. Mr. Bush will meet with the prime ministers of Britain and Spain, his partners in what he calls a coalition of the willing. To help us sort out what this meeting could accomplish former secretary of state, George Schultz, joins us now from Palo Alto, California.

Mr. Secretary, could this meeting possibly avert war or are we in the United States on a clear path to war now?

GEORGE SCHULTZ, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: It's conceivable that some formulation might be developed that would impress Saddam Hussein enough that he would finally do what he's been asked to do. But I think the French and their partners have, in effect, done everything they can to be sure that Saddam Hussein doesn't feel the pressure. So it's been a very difficult piece of diplomacy for us.

WOODRUFF: So you're saying the French bear responsibility. SCHULTZ: Absolutely. The whole notion was to confront Saddam Hussein with an inevitability of force if he doesn't give up voluntarily and the more you give him openings to say, yes, he can continue to play the game that he's played for 10 years and play one country off against the other, the less willing he is to do anything.

WOODRUFF: What about...

SCHULTZ: And the only reason why he's done it is because we have had strong force there.

WOODRUFF: And this argument, though, Mr. Secretary, that the United States has not reached out diplomatically, that it went into this whole effort to get U.N. support, really having set a military timetable and signaling that, you know, there was going to be war, probably anyway, that there were mixed signals here.

SCHULTZ: I don't think so. I think there were very clear signals. Let's just put this in perspective. For 25 years, terrorists have been at war with us and we have done basically nothing consequential about it at all. And on 9/11 we were awakened and we saw that it's about time we declared war on terrorists. It's not a law enforcement problem anymore, it's a war and it's not only a war against terrorists, but it's a war against states that harbor terrorists and are ready to provide terrorists with weaponry that can do us severe damage and Iraq is number one on that list.

WOODRUFF: All right. Former U.S. secretary of state, George Schultz, we're going to be coming back to you throughout the half hour. Thanks very much and we will be back.

But while the Azores summit today is the center of attention, the United Nations is going to be the focus of diplomatic maneuvering tomorrow. And CNN's Michael Okwu joins us from the U.N. with a look at what is on that agenda as well.

Michael, there is a report due from the weapons inspectors before they do anything else. Is that right?

MICHAEL OKWU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Judy. It's going to be a very busy, possibly a definitive week here at the United Nations. The chief weapons inspector Hans Blix, as you know, is mulling over this request from the Iraqis to go back to Baghdad, possibly his third trip since the inspections process resumed back in November, along with the chief nuclear inspector, Mohammed ElBaradei. He also wants to discuss his program at work, his so-called work program on the key remaining disarmament tasks for the Iraqis. Here's Dr. Blix.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HANS BLIX, U.N. CHIEF WEAPONS INSPECTOR: I think everybody is talking now about speeding up the implementation of certain items in the Security Council. They are talking about the finalizing the disarmament. The destruction of the missiles is one element. Another is to get the -- to get interviews going abroad and the third one that relates to clarifications about the unmanned aerial vehicles and the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of anthrax, et cetera. So there are a few reasons, which are on the table that the Council has focused upon already but we will have our properties to what we consider to be key tasks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OKWU: Now, Blix believes that this report will be ready late Monday. In the meantime, France, Russia and Germany have requested a ministerial meeting on this point possibly on Tuesday. This is Blix, of course, meeting with the Council back on the 7th. A U.S. official has said there is absolutely no need for a ministerial meeting at this point, that the Council should be focusing its energies on trying to get a resolution that enforces Resolution 1441.

Now, regarding the U.S., U.K., Spanish second resolution, a Russian ambassador simply said, "I think it's dead" -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. It couldn't get any more blunt than that. Michael Okwu, thanks very much, reporting live for us from the United Nations.

And we can tell you now that the United States, Great Britain and Spain have announced that their leaders, President Bush, Prime Minister Aznar and Tony Blair will hold a joint news conference at 1:35 p.m. Eastern. So in effect, before the summit even gets under way, before the leaders even arrive, they're already announcing that they will make a joint statement, which makes one wonder how much of this has already been arranged before they even get together. We're going to take a break. When we come back, we'll talk to CNN international correspondent, Sheila MacVicar who has had an exclusive interview with a key figure in the terrorist community, the leader of Hezbollah. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: These are live pictures from the Azores. An aircraft carrying British Prime Minister Tony Blair has arrived a little bit of ahead of schedule -- has arrived for that summit that is to take place within the next hour or two with President George W. Bush and with the prime minister of Spain, Jose Maria Aznar. Again, this is Tony Blair's plane, having arrived in the Azores. We had been told originally he was going to land around 11:30 Eastern Time. It's about 45 minutes earlier than that. Perhaps this summit will get underway even sooner than the schedulers have said. Of course, this whole thing was put together extraordinarily quickly for -- extraordinarily quickly for a meeting of this sort. They've just really started the work on it Thursday night and here we are two and a half -- two and a half days later.

Is it Chris Burns who is with us from the -- from -- OK. With us now as we watch the plane, former United States secretary of state, George Schultz.

Secretary Schultz, Tony Blair has been an extraordinary friend to George Bush throughout all this, hasn't he?

SCHULTZ: He certainly has. He's been steadfast. He's been eloquent. He's been persuasive. He's just been terrific.

WOODRUFF: Are you surprised at the political hit, if you will, that he's taken because of his...

SCHULTZ: I am a little surprised, but I also remember back in 1983 when we deployed nuclear missiles in Britain, Italy and especially, Germany because the German ones were ballistic missiles. At the protests, they were huge. They were much more than we see today and at the same time there's no doubt that our ability to deploy those weapons -- and it was a key turning point in turning the Cold War in our direction. So you've got to do what you think is right.

WOODRUFF: And yet, he has suffered politically. The polls in Great Britain show support for the war and support for the alliance with the U.S. is something like 19 percent.

SCHULTZ: Well, that's what they show now. When all is said and done and we come out with a victory, when we come out with something better for the Middle East, then that will probably turn around and people will start saying, well, he was steadfast and he was right and he's led us in a good direction. That happened to Margaret Thatcher. That's happened to leaders always. It's interesting to go back and see in the United States that sentiment against going into World War II is very strong until Pearl Harbor.

WOODRUFF: Former secretary of state, George Schultz, with us this half hour as we watch the preparations for the summit in the Azores. And we're going to come back to the secretary in just a moment.

If the United States invades Iraq, the conflict, as we know, could spread to other Middle East hot spots. One of those is the Lebanese-Israeli border where Hezbollah guerrillas have claimed responsibility for firing anti-aircraft missiles at two Israeli warplanes. There are concerns that if war starts, U.S. forces deployed in the region could come under attack. And CNN's Sheila MacVicar got a rare interview with a leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon and she joins us now from Amman, Jordan.

Sheila, a pretty extraordinary conversation.

SHEILA MACVICAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was a pretty interesting conversation, Judy. It took place late last night in Beirut. It was the first time that I had met Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, but I had been listening to him for a long period of time. Of course, we know what U.S. officials have said about Sheikh Nasrallah and about Hezbollah, the party of God. They have called it a terrorist organization. And one U.S. official, the undersecretary of state, Richard Armitage, even called Hezbollah the A-team of terrorists, saying they are on the U.S. list and we will come and get them.

Now, Hezbollah's primary issue has been occupied territories and initially, they began by fighting the Israeli forces when they were in Lebanon, when they occupied South Lebanon for many years. The Israelis withdrew in the year 2000 and the United Nations certified that border. There is a small chunk of land that Lebanon still claims. The United Nations does not recognize it nor does anyone else except for the government of Syria. And that is the proximate cause of why conflict continues.

The question along that border is what does Hezbollah do if in fact there is a war with Iraq? What does Israel do if there is a war with Iraq? There has been much written in the Israeli press over recent days that perhaps Israeli Prime Minister Sharon would use the distraction of a war with Iraq to attack Hezbollah. My conversation with Sheikh Nasrallah last night, after hearing some very strong words from him earlier in the week, I asked him to explain precisely what he had meant last week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MACVICAR: I heard you in your speech on Ashura (ph), when you spoke to the people who were gathered there and you said that the people -- speaking to the Americans -- the people of this region would receive them, meaning the Americans with rifles, blood, arms with martyrdom and martyrdom operations, suicide bombings. If that is what you believe, will Hezbollah take part in those operations? Would Hezbollah launch attacks against U.S. forces in the region?

SHEIK HASSAN NASRALLAH, HEZBOLLAH LEADER (through translator): The occupiers could stay 10, 50, 100 years, but in the end they leave. We are part of this region and we are affected by its events, but what we may or may not do in the future is subject to the nature of the developments to come.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACVICAR: Judy, Sheikh Nasrallah later in that interview was very careful to emphasize that Hezbollah is a Lebanese party and that it has no interest in Iraq. He went on to say that when he had exerted death to America, he did not mean the American people, but death to what he called the American project in the region. And he said Hezbollah was very much on the defensive, not the offensive -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: So, Sheila, you came away thinking what role will Hezbollah play in a post-war Iraq?

MACVICAR: I think that there are two things. The first thing is, although they would not acknowledge it, it is very clear that the governments of Syria, which is one of Hezbollah's sponsors, if you will, has made it clear to Hezbollah that it is not in the interest of Syria now for Hezbollah to again launch attacks against Israel or anywhere else in the region. The Syrians themselves know that they may, in the future, face a tension from the Americans and demand for a change, demand that they end out of state sponsorship for terror groups like Hezbollah.

So Hezbollah has come under a tremendous amount of pressure. I think the key that we got from the Sheikh Nasrallah last night, well, we heard this defiant rhetoric was defensive, not offensive and no desire to go after Americans. WOODRUFF: All right. CNN's Sheila MacVicar reporting from Amman. And you can see Sheila's full report on "INSIDE HEZBOLLAH" later today at 6:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Once again, with us, the former United States secretary of state, George Schultz.

Mr. Secretary, how worried are you about the reaction throughout the Middle East after the U.S. and others take military action? If that happens, as we assume that it will, what about the reaction in the region?

SCHULTZ: Well, your last segment and that interesting interview showed one of the kinds of consequences that one can expect. That is what your interview showed was Syria's concern about what is going to happen and it's counsel to Hezbollah to cool it. So what we would see is less money flowing, less willingness to support terrorists and that could be very positive. I'm not saying there aren't going to be some difficult things to handle, but -- and we talked about those all of the time, but I thought that very interesting your reporter had showed one of the positive sides of it.

WOODRUFF: Secretary Schultz referring to the interview Sheila MacVicar had. Thank you very much and Mr. Secretary, we'll come to you in just a few minutes. We're going to take another break. When we come back we want to go to Kuwait, to one of the U.S. military units there, Camp New Jersey, to CNN's Brian Chilcote. We'll do that right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: We're waiting for that summit to get underway. In the Azores, world leaders still arriving there. Tony Blair has just arrived. President Bush is set to arrive 45 minutes from now, if not earlier. The leaders -- the four leaders, the United States, Great Britain, Spain and Portugal will hold a news conference today. CNN, of course, will carry that live beginning at 1:30 p.m. Eastern.

Well, while attention all across the globe is focused on this Azores summit, nowhere is that more true than among the American troops who are already in the Gulf region waiting to see if they will go to war. CNN's Ryan Chilcote is embedded with the 101st Airborne Division at Camp New Jersey in Kuwait and he joins us now by videophone.

And Ryan, my first question to you is what do we mean by embedded?

RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, embedded means that I've agreed to a certain set of rules that mostly, if you look at the mean that I'm not going to compromise the operational security of the U.S. military, I'm not going to give away while I'm talking on the any details that could compromise the lives of U.S. servicemen and servicewomen who are fighting or who could see action here, should there be military action in Iraq. I will be traveling with the 101st Airborne, specifically with the 101st Airborne's third brigade. I will go to Iraq if there is military action in Iraq and I will follow the 101st Airborne's moves throughout the conflict, if there is going to be military...

WOODRUFF: All right. Ryan Chilcote, as he said, embedded with the 101st Airborne in Kuwait at Camp New Jersey.

And one final question for Secretary of State Schultz.

Mr. Secretary, if this war happens, as we now expect it will, any doubt in your mind about the outcome?

SCHULTZ: No. I think we'll undoubtedly be successful. The question is how long will it take and then, of course, the quicker it is, the less damage is done and the better you can get on with the reconstruction and the creation, helping the people of Iraq create a new country.

WOODRUFF: Former secretary of state, George Schultz joining us for this half hour. It's good to see you, Mr. Secretary. Thank you for talking with us.

SCHULTZ: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: We'll all be watching in the coming hours. President Bush is expected to arrive in the Azores just about 45 minutes from now. Tony Blair has already arrived. We will have more coverage -- our ongoing coverage continues after this news alert.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: It is 11:00 a.m. on the East Coast, 8:00 out West. Welcome to the second hour of our special coverage of the Azores summit. I'm Judy Woodruff.

This could be the final diplomatic push for the United States to avoid a war with Iraq. We are taking you around the world to cover the story. Chris Burns is with us live from the Azores. Michael Okwu is at the United Nations. Dana Bash is live from the White House, and Nic Robertson is in Baghdad. We're going to be going to all four of them in just a moment.

The leaders of the Coalition of the Willing, Britain, Spain, and the United States, have some critical decisions to make on Iraq. We're going to go -- we're going to first, though, talk with our guest in the studio. He is Robert Hunter, former U.S. ambassador to NATO. As you watch these events unfold is this summit meaningful? Is it a summit that could prevent war, or is it simply a way to say, we're unified before the shooting starts?

ROBERT HUNTER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: Well, it can prevent war if Saddam Hussein looks at this and finally makes a decision, I'm going to disarm because I don't want to be dead.

Otherwise, it's really because, first, Tony Blair needs support. He is standing with the United States, but this war is just as unpopular in Britain as elsewhere. And, secondly, the president understands he can make the decision, America can win the war, but we've got to do something afterwards. We've got to be able to remake Iraq, if it comes to war, and the United States can't, and I think, won't do it alone. Very expensive, lots of troops, and lots of administrators, and he would like to, if he possibly can, have a U.N. resolution before taking his decision.

WOODRUFF: Robert Hunter will be with us throughout the hour.

Let's go quickly to the Azores, where CNN's Chris Burns is live.

Chris, the leaders are arriving. Tony Blair is there. When is this meeting going to get underway, and what is expected to be accomplished? They've already set a time for their joint statement.

BURNS: Judy, they're being very cryptic about exactly what they're going to come up with, here. President Bush is about to arrive within the hour. Also, Jose Maria Aznar, the Spanish Prime Minister, is to arrive, as well. The three of them will be meeting for only about an hour. That's what the schedule is, and then they will be having a news conference after that, reading a lot of statements.

What will they say? That is the big question. Up to now, Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser of Bush, saying that this was the final push for diplomacy. However, a lot of ominous statements from various officials, ranging from the spectrum of the vice president all the way down. Some of the statements that we also heard on Air Force One today, also rather ominous. The most important, I think, is the question pitched to Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman, will the president address the nation next week? He said, that is an option.

The purpose of this meeting, says Ari Fleischer, is to express where we are going as diplomacy comes to an end. And to make clear to Saddam Hussein that he must disarm. That they will be reaching out to other countries. Words from the Vice President Dick Cheney. Let's hear what he has to say. Very, very ominous.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHENEY: We're close to the end, if you will, of the diplomatic efforts. We've done virtually everything we can with respect to trying to organize a second resolution in the U.N. Security Council, and clearly, the president is going to have to make a very, very difficult and important decision here in the next few days.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNS: Not just the Americans are sounding ominous, but listen to Jack Straw, the foreign minister from Britain saying, "War is much more probable now." And the words from Jose Maria Aznar, the Spanish Prime Minister who is going to be here moments from now, saying that he doesn't think there is any necessity to have another U.N. resolution before going to war with Iraq. Front and center, closing ranks with President Bush on that issue. So even though he's very much under fire, as well as Tony Blair, back at home. The polls back in their countries have shown majority against a war unless there is a U.N. resolution. So, very much in trouble, they're trying to close ranks and show that they are still together, and we'll have to see what they have to say. Judy?

WOODRUFF: All right, CNN's Chris Burns, who is with us throughout our coverage of this important summit meeting today in the Azores. Chris, we will be coming back to you a little bit later.

Quickly back to Robert Hunter, former US Ambassador to NATO. If there had been an invitation to the undecided country, leaders of undecided countries, or the leader of France, Jacques Chirac or others, could diplomacy make a difference at this late hour?

HUNTER: Oh, I think it could. In fact, I'm sure, as your correspondent was saying, whatever is going to be done in the Azores has already been decided. This is a matter of having a particular meeting and then laying it out.

I suspect that the president will embrace some form of Mr. Blair's six tests for Saddam. He will try to use that, then, to get two or three of the undecided small countries at the U.N. to come around, so the United States and Britain can get the minimum they need, which is nine votes.

Then that throws it over to France. Will France veto or not? In one event, France is totally isolated. Everybody can say, well, those are the French. Everybody is going together beside them. Or they might then be able to go to the French and say, do you really want to be the holdout at the end?

WOODRUFF: But isn't that what they've been trying to do all along? How would this be any different than what they've been trying for the last few days?

HUNTER: Well, I think if Blair does push very hard, and the president goes with it, to show the last college try. I went to the Azores, the president can say, I adopted what Mr. Blair wanted to do. We've tried everything to get the nine votes. Because if they don't get the nine votes, the French can say, we didn't have to veto, you never got there.

So they get the nine votes, then they can put a lot of pressure on the French. And the French may say at the end, OK, lots of things have been done. For example, Friday morning, the president, secretary of state went out in the rose garden and talked about peacemaking. They did that to impress other countries. That was the reason. And the French came out right away and said, nice job.

WOODRUFF: Well, we will certainly see. Robert Hunter, with us throughout this hour.

As we've been saying, Iraq is in war mode this weekend. Saddam Hussein saying he's taking charge of the air force, as his country is split in four regions with separate commanders.

CNN's Nic Robertson joins us live from Baghdad with more on this. Nic, the significance of Saddam Hussein himself keeping control of the air force?

ROBERTSON: It does leave him in control of the offensive capability, if you will. It's not just the air forces, the helicopters, it is the surface-to-air missiles, it's the ground-to- ground missiles.

It's interesting as well that he should put his younger son Qusay Saddam Hussein in charge of the central region. We've heard from Iraqi commanders, from President Saddam Hussein, in the past, this concentric wing theory that there would be multiple layers of defense before the troops arrive at Baghdad, the effort there to blunt and slow down any incoming, any invading force.

Now, it appears by putting his son in charge of the most central, strategically important area, perhaps putting his most trusted person in charge of that area, perhaps looking to the south and the commanders there to slow an invading force before it reaches the capital, of course, Qusay Saddam Hussein in charge of the Republican Guard and the Elite Republican Guard, as well, perhaps an indication there that they will be based in the central region around Baghdad.

It's very interesting because this move essentially does to Iraq what President Saddam Hussein did right before "Operation Desert Fox" in 1998. Which was prepare the country in case there's a breakdown in command and control, essentially devolve some of the power making and authority making decisions to different leaders in the north and the south, and the middle, and in the center.

At the same time that Iraq has been doing this, however, we're also seeing an increase in the number of moves to cooperate with the U.N. weapons inspectors. The U.N. here saying today, they have received a letter and documents outlining how Iraq disposed of some precursor chemical agents for mustard gas. Iraq's national monitoring director that deals with the U.N. says it's given the U.N. video and photographs of mobile laboratories. Mobile laboratories it says are for transporting pharmaceutical, food stuffs, things for military and civilian use. Yesterday, Iraq giving the U.N. a list of chemical scientists involved in the chemical weapons industry.

So it seems to be a process of accelerating preparation for war, yet accelerating some sort of cooperation with the U.N.. However, the U.N. staff is reducing and we're told today by the U.N. they have had to remove five of their eight helicopters out of Iraq because they cannot get insurance for them right now. Judy?

WOODRUFF: Nic, very quickly, what about the people who live in the Baghdad area? Are they staying put? Are they trying to leave?

ROBERTSON: Those that can are leaving. People that have the money are leaving. Most people, if they can, will go to Syria. Most people however don't have the money; they're staying. We've seen sales of water pumps, kerosene, food heaters going up in the market today. People reacting to the division of the country to this preparation for war.

WOODRUFF: All right. CNN's Nic Robertson reporting for us, live from Baghdad. Thank you, Nic. And of course, we'll be coming back to you throughout the day.

Well, with President Bush heading to the summit, about to land about half an hour from now, if not sooner, a summit in the Azores, officials at the White House, of course, are closely following today's developments from all over the nation, from Iraq, from the United Nations.

CNN's Dana Bash is live from the White House. Dana, what is being done right now at the White House, inside this administration, in terms of plans for the next step? It seems that they already have a pretty good idea of what's going to come out of this summit.

BASH: Well, Judy, you heard Chris Burns reporting a little bit of news from Ari Fleischer, who is aboard Air Force One talking to reporters, saying that we could hear from the president this coming week.

Now, that is key, because the White House, White House officials have told us kind of all along, that if and when the U.N. process runs its course, when the diplomatic process runs its course, we should expect to hear from the president, for the president to address the nation, and perhaps issue an ultimatum to Saddam Hussein. We've heard perhaps 72-hour ultimatum, so the fact that Ari Fleischer is saying we could hear from the president this coming week really kind of spells out where we are, especially listening to, as Chris was saying, the ominous signs and signals from the president's top men. The vice president and the secretary of state saying that really diplomacy is at its end right now. So we could see some very sharp movements, some very quick movements in the days ahead -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Dana, a lot of talk about French/U.S. relations. How much is the administration thinking right now about how involved France will be, once this war gets under way, and then after?

BASH: Well, it's interesting, Judy, because there has been so much frustration that has, until really this past week, been kind of behind the scenes. Frustration from the White House and from British officials I've spoken to, at the French.

And today, a lot of that frustration came out in the open from both the vice president and Secretary of State Colin Powell. Let's listen to something that Secretary Powell had to say earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN POWELL, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Very disappointed that France has played, frankly, somewhat unhelpful role in keeping the pressure on Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein could always see that there was at least one nation, there were others, as well, who were signaling veto of anything that might put maximum force on him. And unfortunately, it's a continuing pattern from 1998 with the French, when they also abstained on the resolution that set up the previous inspection regime.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: There you heard Colin Powell talking to Wolf Blitzer. Talking about the fact that they feel, really, that the French have thwarted them at every turn in trying to get compromise at the United Nations. That the fact that they threatened veto, the fact that they have really denied and denounced any compromise that the US and the Brits have put forward, has really hurt any chance for going through the U.N., and there's clearly a lot of frustration there -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: You can certainly hear it. Dana Bash at the White House, part of our live coverage leading up to the summit taking place in the Azores.

With me in the studio here in Washington, Robert Hunter, former US Ambassador to the UN. So the administration view is that the French are at fault. They've been obstructionists all along. The French view is different.

HUNTER: We all love beating up on the French. I spent four and a half years at NATO fighting with them every single day, but I think, tending to succeed if one listens to them. The thing with the French, they aren't just speaking for themselves. They are speaking for the overwhelming majority of European public opinion.

And what they're saying, whether we pay attention to it or not, is, first, how many civilians are going to get killed. Secondly, will terrorism go up or down if there's a war. Third, afterwards, you're going to win. But third, afterwards, are you really committed to being in Iraq for the long haul? We're a little wondering. Afghanistan wasn't a terribly good precedent. Are you really committed to Arab/Israeli peacemaking, or are you just using this as a base to go after Iran next? How will you show us, Mr. President, we will have a better world, rather than a less good world?

I think the president probably understands all that. I wish he'd come out next week when he talks, if he's going to talk about the need for war, he'll also talk about his vision for the world in the future. The importance of NATO, the importance of the U.N., et cetera. And then I think, in the end, the French will abstain, step aside, but not oppose us.

WOODRUFF: Is that right? You think they'll come on board?

HUNTER: I don't know whether they'll do that at the U.N., because the president doesn't need that at the U.N.. But they don't want to see America damaged; they do want to see Saddam go. But they're trying to tell people, you need more than you've got now if you're going to have world opinion on your side.

WOODRUFF: Robert Hunter, with us this hour as we watch developments leading up to this summit.

We are -- you mentioned the United Nations and I want to go to our correspondent at the U.N. today, Michael Okwu. Michael, the U.N. has been a much more critical player in all this than I think many top figures in the Bush administration originally wanted, but right now they're front and center. You've got a weapons inspection report coming up tomorrow.

OKWU: We've got a weapons inspections report. Hans Blix has been mulling over, Judy, this request from the Iraqis to go back to Baghdad, again, possibly now for the third time, to discuss some of the key remaining disarmament tasks.

And also, of course, you've got the French. Jacques Chirac, coming forward, of course, with our own CNN's Christiane Amanpour, talking about the possibility of this 30-day deadline, saying that he might be willing to consider a 30-day deadline for the Iraqis. And as you know, Judy, that has been the discussion here at the United Nations about timing. It will be very interesting to see how those words will play themselves out at the Security Council this week.

Of course, last week, the Chileans came out with a possible proposal, saying that they would like a 30-day deadline for the Iraqis, along with five key benchmarks for the Iraqis to comply with. The US was saying, quite early on, that that was a non-starter. They've been saying that many of the suggestions coming from some of those swing votes on the council have been non-starters. They do not want to give the Iraqis much more time.

But with Chirac making these comments, it'll be very interesting to see whether that resurfaces. So those small countries on the council do not want to authorize the possible use of war and then see a military action, I should say, and then see that military action come right around the corner. So look for possibly those small countries to get together again, possibly the French as well as the Germans and the Russians to have discussions, perhaps about the Chirac comments -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: So just quickly, Michael, diplomacy not entirely dead at the U.N.?

OKWU: Not entirely dead, although there hasn't been a great deal of consensus here. Clearly, the chief weapons inspector Hans Blix playing another vital role in all this. The Iraqis, as I mentioned before, have asked him to come back, possibly for his third trip there since the inspections process resumed. This is what he had to say earlier about these visits.

I guess we don't have that soundbite, but Mr. Blix saying that he would like to at least think about what the Iraqi request is here to go back there. He said that it's very clear that the Iraqis have been much more proactively cooperative since his visits, his earlier visits along with the nuclear chief weapons inspector Mr. ElBaradei.

So, Mr. Blix is going to be looking at this. He would like to go back to the Security Council as early as tomorrow, possibly on Tuesday, to talk about the feasibility of these visits with the Security Council president, and to also talk about the key remaining disarmament tasks for the Iraqis. Judy? WOODRUFF: All right, Michael Okwu at the U.N.. And maybe a very tricky time for Mr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei, his nuclear weapons counterpart, to go back, but we will see.

We are going to take a break. Once again, we are looking for a 1:30 p.m. news conference in the Azores with the leaders of the four countries, President Bush of the United States, Prime Minister Tony Blair of Great Britain, Prime Minister -- the prime ministers of Spain and Portugal joining them for a joint statement following the summit today. We're going to take a break. Much more of our live coverage after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: As we wait for a summit in the Azores, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, to get under way, a summit that could be decisive or a summit that is simply one more step in a predestined path to war, let's go to our correspondent who is there. CNN's European political editor, Robin Oakley, traveled on the plane to the Azores with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

And, Robin, you were talking with senior officials, British officials on board that plane. They're telling you there is a glimmer of a diplomatic -- piece of diplomatic hope yet?

ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN EUROPEAN POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, they're still saying they haven't given up hope on that second U.N. Security Council resolution, which, of course, Tony Blair desperately needs for political cover, with a party and a cabinet that has strong reservations about military action against Saddam Hussein.

But British officials are saying that nobody's pretending things are other than difficult and they're talking about this now as a meeting to resolve a diplomatic crisis. It is, very much, the last final move for diplomacy. They're denying that it is, in effect, a council of war, but they have admitted that Tony Blair and George Bush and Jose Maria Aznar will discuss the post-conflict situation in Iraq, which suggests that many people have already decided that things are going to lead on to war.

Essentially, they are saying, there is a complete impasse with the countries which don't recognize the logic of Resolution 1441 passed by the U.N. back last November, which threatened serious consequences for Saddam Hussein if he didn't disarm in the very near future. Judy?

WOODRUFF: Robin, analysts in the US have said that this meeting in the Azores, President Bush agreed to this largely to help Tony Blair out. Is this going to help him at home?

OAKLEY: There is still an outside chance that it will, but it looks as though Tony Blair is going to have to face up to what has always been his biggest political nightmare. And that is, going into a war situation in Iraq without the cover of a U.N. Security Council resolution. Back home, opinion polls show something like 70 percent would back him if he went into a war, military action, with the backing of the U.N.. Only about 20 to 30 percent support him if he goes in without that backing. And at least two members of his cabinet have threatened to resign if he doesn't get backing from the U.N.. And a big rebellion of Tony Blair's MPs, members of the labor party, in the British parliament are threatening to rebel if he doesn't get that backing from the U.N. Security Council.

So George Bush is very much going to the last inch of the last mile in his effort to help Tony Blair to give him that political cover he needs. But both of them must now recognize that it's only a very small outside chance that they can bring it off. Judy?

WOODRUFF: OK, CNN's European political editor, Robin Oakley, who is reporting from the Azores. He did travel on the plane with Tony Blair earlier today, and as you just saw, those pictures of Blair arriving just within the past hour.

We want to quickly go to Moscow to CNN's bureau chief there, Jill Dougherty. Jill, we're hearing about the difficulties that Tony Blair faces if he goes along. What about the attitude of President Putin? How much support does he have, if, in some form or fashion, he were to decide to support what President Bush wants him to do?

DOUGHERTY: Well, that would be quite surprising, Judy, because so far the Russians have given no indication whatsoever that they would actually support it.

The one thing the US was hoping, is that if this second resolution came to a vote, that at the very best, in the eyes of the United States, that simply Russia would abstain. They didn't want them to use a veto and we still don't know, although they have threatened many times that they would use the veto on that particular resolution, we still don't know how this will all play out.

In fact, just a few minutes ago I talked to the foreign ministry spokesman and asked him, do you expect that there will be any reaction to this summit? And he said, no, at least not tonight because, number one, they say they have no idea what the summit will yield. And Russia's position right now seems to be the less said, the better, and they support obviously what the French are doing and what the Germans are doing. But when you get beyond that, you haven't heard from Mr. Putin for quite a long time on this, and I think that's indicative.

WOODRUFF: Jill, very quickly, here, finally, before I leave you at this time, any comment from the Russians in terms of whether they think they should have been invited to this meeting? Or do they just view this as President Bush and the leaders of the countries who are supporting him?

DOUGHERTY: I think that you'd have to say they probably had no expectation that they were going to be invited to this, but their answer to this summit really is the proposal that they share with the French and the Germans to get the foreign ministers together on Tuesday. They still say, let's try diplomacy. WOODRUFF: All right. Jill Dougherty, our bureau chief right there in Moscow. Thank you very much, Jill. She is part of our ongoing coverage today, as this summit, about to get underway in the Azores.

Here with me in the studio, in Washington, former US Ambassador to NATO, Robert Hunter. As you listen to the different pieces of the puzzle here, what hope is there, do you think, at this last hour, 11th hour, whatever you want to call it, that something can be pieced together that the US would get to nine on on the Security Council?

HUNTER: To avoid war requires two people to make a decision. Saddam Hussein says uncle, or somebody puts a bullet in his head. To get to nine, I think the president of the United States has a very good shot at that, if he goes with Mr. Blair's six issues, his six tests, and also if he gives it a few more days.

I've negotiated with NATO. We went 24 hours talking about whether we were going to give the Serbs 24 or 72 hours before NATO started bombing. Some people say 30 days. Some say three. You can cut a deal on that.

I think the president is going to try. If it doesn't work he will have tried and then he'll have more people in the world with him.

WOODRUFF: So this idea that the U.S. could have -- I don't know. For example you now have Jacques Chirac in France saying, well, maybe 30 days. They started out saying three months or longer. Now they're saying maybe we can get this done in 30 days.

Is there any sense at all that you could find -- it just sounds like such a short period of time. What is -- what would be the difficulty for the U.S. in agreeing to go four weeks rather than one week or two weeks?

HUNTER: Right now the president cannot look weak. He cannot look indecisive or you lose any chance of Saddam or some general doing what they need to do out there.

But if he got an indication from the French, look, we can cut a deal. We're going to have the world on one side because we do have to disarm this man, after all, nobody now disagrees with that. George Bush has succeeded at that. He's got everybody to agree on it.

If he did that and if he has to fly off to Paris and have dinner with the French president to do a deal, why not? There was a king once who converted to Catholicism and he said, "Paris is worth a mass." Well, Paris, I think, for Bush would be worth a trip to the Azores.

WOODRUFF: We're listening to Robert Hunter. We're also looking at a picture of the plane of the Spanish prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar, arriving in the Azores. Prime minister's plane just coming in from, presumably from Madrid.

Robert Hunter, as we look at this, what is the significance of Spain being on board? I mean, there's been so much focus on Tony Blair, Tony Blair, what about the fact that the government of Spain has been with George Bush, despite the opposition of the public in Spain?

HUNTER: Well, a lot of people in Europe have been saying Tony Blair is just George Bush's poodle. He's just going along with him because of the special relationship or something. I don't think that's true but there you are.

And they say, those are the Brits. The other side of the English Channel, they don't care. Spain is a solid part of continental Europe. It's an up-and-coming country. It's becoming one of the major economic powers.

And to have a Latin country -- France is also a Latin country -- go along with the United States speaks volumes in terms of the president of the United States having brought its support on this. So Mr. Aznar, the prime minister, has been on the sideline but in Europe a great help.

WOODRUFF: Significance of this being held, Robert Hunter, this meeting being held in the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean, two-thirds of the way -- I mean, you have the physical gesture of the president of the United States going more than halfway, if you will, to Europe geographically. Even if the outcome of this summit is precooked, just the symbolism of it, does it say something?

HUNTER: Well, you've just said it, the president has gone more than halfway and want to hold it not in Britain because then it looks like it's cooked for the British. You don't want to hold it just in Spain, that's kind of off in the corner.

The old days when the presidents would negotiate with the Soviet Union, they'd go to Helsinki or to Geneva. The Azores is a good place to do it because now the issue is not what will the Russians do but what will our good friends and allies in Europe, the Europeans and the allies do. The Azores is a perfect choice.

WOODRUFF: All right. Robert Hunter, we are talking with us throughout this hour as we try to get a better understanding of this summit -- the significance of this summit that will be getting under way within the next hour or two in the Azores.

Again, we're looking at live pictures of the plane of the Spanish prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar, having just arrived in the Azores. He is joining British Prime Minister Tony Blair and within about, I think, less than 15 minutes we're also expected to see the plane of President George W. Bush, Air Force One, arriving there, as well.

And we want to tell you, again, even before this meeting gets under way, they are letting us know they expect to hold a joint news conference at 1:30 eastern time. Now, of course, that timetable could slip, but that's what they are telling us now, which makes it sound as if much of this meeting has been prearranged, precooked, whatever word you want to use.

As we watch this, we will take a break. Our live coverage of the run-up to this summit in the Azores continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Our live coverage continues. This is the plane of the Spanish prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar, having just landed a few minutes ago in the Azores. They were waiting for him to get off the plane.

The British prime minister, Tony Blair, is already there. President George W. Bush, Air Force One, is expected to land within the next 10 to 12 minutes.

This live coverage of the summit will be going on throughout this day and, of course, as it does, we are watching developments there. We want to let you know we've preempted part of RELIABLE SOURCES, the show that normally is on CNN this half hour, but we have not preempted its host, Howard Kurtz. And he joins us right now.

Hello, Howard.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, CNN'S "RELIABLE SOURCES": Hi, Judy. Thank you.

And joining me now this morning is Jonah Goldberg, editor of "National Review" online and syndicated columnist E.J. Dionne of the Brookings Institution.

Jonah Goldberg, these summits, the press usual cover them with great dramatic flourishes. Looks like this one is being depicted as a charade, "The Washington Post" saying this is to allow Bush and Blair to appear to be making a final effort at peace. Is that fair?

JONAH GOLDBERG, "NATIONAL REVIEW" ONLINE: I'm not sure that's fair. It certainly is being covered with lots of drama. They're just not necessarily believing the P.R. about why this summit is taking place. But this does have all the excitement in terms of the media frenzy about it that some of the Cold War summits we saw.

KURTZ: A lot of P.R., though?

E.J. DIONNE, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, I think summits are usually places where people with disagreements work things out and missing at this summit, conveniently, are any other countries with which we disagree.

I've also been struck with the coverage that it's been used to underscore how little personal diplomacy the president has done and even Colin Powell has done. There were stories today, for example, in "The Washington Post" contrasting how much time the first President Bush spent, not only on the phone, but face to face with foreign leaders.

And so I think that some of this coverage is useful in bringing out points that need to be brought out about how we got to this point.

KURTZ: Let's contrast the American media coverage, which a lot of people see as kind of pro-war, with the European coverage and around the world.

Here's "The Los Angeles Times" this morning saying to a lot of people in the world, this all looks like America's self-declared right to launch preemptive wars, its willingness to dismiss the United Nations, to shut allies and make plans to invade and occupy another country, and perhaps the start of an American imperialism.

How much of that reflects what news consumers are getting overseas, as opposed to here at home?

GOLDBERG: Well, there's actually a story line you hear a lot when you debate people on the left about the war. They say, well, the reason there's so many protests in Europe is because they're getting better and more accurate news than the Americans are, being spoon-fed all this propaganda.

KURTZ: You don't buy it?

GOLDBERG: I don't buy it at all. I mean, I think it's...

KURTZ: But the coverage is very different.

GOLDBERG: Agreed, the coverage is different but I think in many ways the reverse is true, that in much of the European press and the foreign press and certainly the Arab press they work from the assumption that there are nefarious, evil, demon motives on the part of the administration, and that explains all the behavior that comes out.

In the United States, because they're close to the actual story, they see the politicians and they know that they may be inept or they may be making the wrong decisions but they're not doing this for oil, they're not doing this for the Jews, and so forth, story lines that you see a lot of in the foreign press.

KURTZ: Yesterday we had another round of global demonstrations against the war around the world, and I do have the impression that these protests are taken a lot more seriously by the European media, for example, and that there is an underlying tone in the American press of "these people are kind of misguided."

DIONNE: Well, I think that you've seen a big shift in the way in which the American press has treated demonstrations here and abroad over the last month or two.

I think there was -- the American media were slow to pick up on the fact that there was opposition to this war in the United States. The early demonstrations weren't covered. These demonstrations are being taken seriously, and I think there's been a change in the tone of the American press. I was very struck...

KURTZ: You say the American press has woken up to the fact that there are millions of people around the world who feel passionately against this war?

DIONNE: That's not exactly what I said. I think that the -- I think that the American media have paid more and more attention to these protests as time has gone on.

And what strikes me is the much more negative tone about the Bush diplomacy. And I was just reading through -- leafing through the papers today, and on one page story there is there a story on diplomatic failure, this again from a "Post" story. A former President Bush adviser is quoted as saying they used unilateral tactics in a multilateral strategy. And that's why you have this contradiction going on in the Bush policy that has led to this diplomatic failure.

Then you turn the page, there's another story on how they really haven't provided enough evidence on what kind of chemicals, what kind of weapons Saddam has.

So I think that because of the diplomatic breakdown, the tone of the American coverage has actually changed quite markedly.

KURTZ: It depends on where you look.

DIONNE: Just in the last couple of weeks.

KURTZ: I happened to be watching Fox News last night and a couple anchors talking about some demonstrators in Portland, Oregon, blocking a bridge and they were practically sneering, saying this is illegal and twice in 30 seconds the anchor said, you know, "Fox News poll says 71 percent of Americans support this war." In essence to kind of minimize people who, whatever their tactics, don't agree.

GOLDBERG: Well, I mean, I think there's something to be said for that and I think one of the things that E.J. is this -- the sort of anti-war or at least anti-Bush spin on why this Azores summit is happening in the first place, is that diplomacy has failed, that Bush botched the job with diplomacy and so forth.

There are people on the other side of the plate who would say that the reason diplomacy has failed is because the French wanted it to fail and the French weren't covering it right.

KURTZ: Has the American press bought what you call the spin that the Bush administration has botched the diplomacy? And is that unfair?

GOLDBERG: I don't know if it's bought it yet, because this is all moving so fast. But I certainly think that storyline, if you look at the morning papers, is very large and very serious. And it may get more and more loud as days goes on.

In terms of the protests, though, I mean, every single time there's a protest, it's a huge front and center page one picture in "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post." I don't think that these protests have been ignored.

C-Span has been covering these things soup to nuts all day long, and you know, they're owned by the troglodytic right wing corporate media, right? KURTZ: You would say that the -- would you say that the press -- that these stories are overdue, raising questions about the diplomacy that has failed in the U.N." Or maybe failure is an unfair word.

DIONNE: Well, first, I don't think these stories are spin at all. I mean, we went through a very long period, especially immediately after 9/11, where the administration got such exceptionally good coverage that even normally critical coverage looks unusual now.

So I think that's happened but it's the facts are the facts. And I think the coverage doesn't reflect anything except, you know, the administration had a problem in Turkey, the administration has had problems with the U.N. Allies like Chile, Chile's a good friend of the United States, they can't even...

KURTZ: Why is the coverage so much more critical of the Bush administration and this whole war effort in the European press? You'll agree with Jonah that there's this tide of anti-Americanism in there, in this?

DIONNE: I've been reading European papers more than usual the last couple of weeks, and I do sense the tone is somewhat more critical. But I don't think -- I have read plenty of stories that simply look at the matter from the point of view of their side, their governments, their public opinion.

Public opinion in Europe is very strongly against this, even in the countries that support us. And I think journalism does, whether we want it to happen or not, and we could criticize the media for that, does reflect to some degree the place it's in and public opinion in that play.

GOLDBERG: Yes, but at the margins, though, where -- when the sensational media comes into play, when the sensational hyperbole comes into play, the European press, even the British press, has gone overboard in terms of depicting the United States.

I mean, go back to the Guantanamo detainees, where you had "torture." There's this room, in terms of hyperbole, to say things about the United States that are just simply off limits in the American press.

KURTZ: I've got to move on. I also think that a lot of liberal commentators and magazines in this country are supporting the war and so we don't have the usual left-right debate.

Last question, Jonah Goldberg, 500 reporters, most of them Americans, out there with the troops, "embedded," in the Pentagon language.

I think this has -- it's a great thing but I think this has been a brilliant P.R. stroke by the Pentagon because you have a lot of human interest stories about our fighting men and women that has created a lot of sympathy. And now when you think of the war you don't think should we or should we not go after Saddam but are we supporting the troops? Do you agree?

GOLDBERG: You know, I agree with it. This is not something necessarily new. Ernie Pyle was embedded intentionally with the troops in his day. But I think that that can work both ways. Because the more you humanize, legitimately humanize, make sympathetic the troops the more that could against Bush by putting our troops in harm's way.

KURTZ: What about you?

DIONNE: I think it shows they seem to -- they have some confidence that this is going to work out well. Because I agree with Jonah: if something goes wrong, the reporters are going to be there.

I think that one of the problems for the anti-war movement will be maintaining the separation, you can support the troops and oppose the war.

KURTZ: Well, it could be a double-edged sword. And we'll have to see how that turns out, if, in fact, there are hostilities. And I've got to leave it there. E.J. Dionne, Jonah Goldberg, thanks for joining us.

Judy Woodruff, back to you.

WOODRUFF: All right, Howard Kurtz. Always fascinating hearing from all three of you. Thanks very much.

We are waiting for President Bush's plane, Air Force One, to arrive in the Azores. We are watching for that and for the summit to get underway, a summit in the final hours before what almost everyone expects will be an outbreak of war in the Persian Gulf.

We're going to take a break; we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Any minute now Air Force One is expected to land in the Azores. You're looking at live pictures of that -- those islands in the center of the Atlantic Ocean, a little bit, I guess you'd call the eastern Atlantic Ocean.

President Bush on Air Force One, on his way to a summit that could be decisive in the run-up to a likely war with Iraq.

As we wait for President Bush's plane to land -- and we will, of course, take you there live, show you those pictures live when we get them -- we want to talk about the military implications from a number of different perspectives.

With us now from northern Iraq, CNN's Ben Wedeman, who is reporting from the city of Irbil. Also joining us from the Pentagon, CNN's Chris Plant.

Ben, I want to come to you first. What role -- we know that you are in what is typically known as the Kurdish section of northern Iraq. What role will the Kurds play once military action gets under way?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, we don't know actually specifically what they're going to be doing. We do know they certainly would very much like to see Saddam Hussein ousted and, therefore, they are welcoming -- they do welcome the prospect of U.S. troops coming here.

But at this point there's the problem of Turkey, which basically controls the entrances to northern Iraq. And if the Turks do not give their approval for the passage of American troops through Turkey, the whole idea of a northern front in a potential war against Saddam Hussein's army comes into question.

Now, it is expected that, indeed, the United States may airdrop, for instance, forces into the northern part of the country, but it -- that would not allow for the sort of heavy armor that the United States would like to have to be involved in the fighting. So the Kurds, certainly, will provide as much assistance as they can, but they only have about 60,000 men under arms and those are by and large fairly light arms, so really it all depends on how many troops the United States can get into this area -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: So, Ben, what is -- how much of a disadvantage, then, is the United States at if the troops have to come in from another direction?

WEDEMAN: A huge disadvantage because they don't have the sort of land route into the area to provide the heavy supplies that they would have needed.

Now, the Americans were talking about bringing in as many as 60,000 troops into northern Iraq. Those plans, it would appear, have been by and large scrapped.

Now they may bring in several thousand elite troops into the area, but the whole idea of a northern front linked with a southern front, putting some sort of clamp on Iraq or the Iraqi forces in the central part of the country, has really gone out the window.

What they're going to try to do is, with the assistance, potentially, of the Kurdish forces, take the northern cities of Mosul, of Kirkuk, of course, being the oil producing part of the country.

But it would appear at this point that the major military action will, in fact, be from the south and not the north -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, CNN's Ben Wedeman reporting from the city of Irbil in northern Iraq.

We're waiting for President Bush to arrive in the Azores for the summit there. Air Force One to land; as soon as it does, of course, we will bring you those pictures.

Meantime, I want to go to the Pentagon to CNN correspondent Chris Plante.

Chris, we learned in the last 24 hours, I guess, that Saddam Hussein has divided Iraq up into four separate military regions.

What is the significance of this? Does this put him in any stronger position as he faces a likely U.S. attack?

PLANTE: Well, there's certainly no sense here that the U.S. is overly concerned about this latest announcement by Saddam Hussein. I think it's expected that a leader of a country or a military leader would move to organize a resistance, which is what effectively this maneuver by President Hussein is.

There is an argument that the -- excuse me -- the Pentagon has been making for some time now, that the senior leadership in Iraq is probably fairly brittle at this point in time. And the fact that Saddam Hussein's son or sons, it's a little unclear, have been put in charge of the region that will be responsible for defending Baghdad might be taken as an indication that his senior leadership is not up to the task, that he doesn't trust them to take care of security of the city of Baghdad.

But, again, they're hoping not -- they're attempting not to read too much into this announcement. It's sort of an expected announcement.

WOODRUFF: Chris, as we're talking to you, we are getting our first live pictures now from the Azores of Air Force One coming in. There it is on the ground in the Azores.

Our own correspondent, Chris Burns, is there, as well. Chris, the president is almost on time.

BURNS: Yes, Judy, just by about ten minutes late. He is arriving with his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, who said earlier that this meeting with the president -- with the prime ministers of Spain and of Britain is a last push for peace, as she put it.

However, a lot of pessimistic evaluations, as well, even from the president himself, saying there is little hope in his words in his radio address over the weekend that Saddam Hussein will disarm by himself. And, in fact, in interviews over today in Washington, Dick Cheney, the vice president, saying that the president is going to have to make a very, very difficult and important decision in the next few days, telegraphing to the people of the country that it does look very much like he's going to have to make a decision whether to go to war or not.

We asked on Air Force One Ari Fleischer, who's also on that plane right now, we asked him, will the president address the nation next week, and he said in his words, "That is an option."

So even though this meeting is sworn up and down not to be a war council, they are going to be talking about the last remaining diplomatic options, and it doesn't look like there are many. That Spain and Britain are in a very difficult position at the moment, the leaders, Tony Blair of Britain and Jose Maria Aznar, they're facing a lot of flack back home because of their support of President Bush, and they're going to at least try to show that there are other, if not diplomatic measures with Iraq, the diplomatic measures also in the Middle East, a road map, perhaps, as President Bush talked about a couple of days ago, they will obviously try to make some reference to that.

They are trying to solve not only the Iraqi question but the wider Middle East question, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Chris Burns, reporting live for us from the Azores, where Air Force One has just landed. You see it there on the ground.

With me in the studio in Washington, former U.S. ambassador to NATO, Robert Hunter.

Robert Hunter, how much does President Bush have riding on this meeting today, or is the handwriting on the wall?

HUNTER: Well, I think the president is going to have to make his decision for war or not for war based upon whether Saddam Hussein does what is being demanded of him. Doesn't look like he's going to do that.

But he would rather, as president of the United States, not go to war if he can win without it. If he can get America's interest and, secondly, show the American people and others, I went as far as I possibly could to get allies with me and to try to get that thug in Baghdad to do what he has to do.

WOODRUFF: Air Force One has come to a stop there in the Azores. We've watched it taxi to a close.

Robert Hunter, you know, we just heard Chris Burns. We've heard others say that there is a sliver of a chance for some sort of diplomatic solution here. What would that -- how would you describe what that sliver is?

HUNTER: I think the sliver would be to adopt Tony Blair's six steps on disarmament, then to go to the U.N. first of the week and try to get those nine votes.

It's hard to believe, when the president of the United States is as committed as he is, that he can't get countries like Mexico and Chile and Angola and Cameroon and Guinea, some of your viewers may not have even heard of, to come with us to get nine votes.

Then if the French want to be isolated on the side, the president can stand before the American people, the alliance and the world and say, look, I did this because it was critical for the world. If somebody stood in the way, well, I'm sorry about that, but I now have at least a majority of the council with me and if somebody wanted to block it, well, I can't help that.

WOODRUFF: But what you describe is essentially what the British laid out there some days ago and the U.S. and other countries made it clear that that wasn't going to be acceptable. So something would have to change, it seems to me, for that particular lineup of six conditions to be accepted.

With us from the White House here in Washington, CNN's White House correspondent, Dana Bash.

Dana, you'd have to say that the administration went into this meeting today pretty much knowing what the outcome is going to be.

BASH: Well, it's interesting, Judy.

The president has been on the phone all week long with these leaders, with Spanish Prime Minister Aznar and with Tony Blair. Tony Blair, he probably spoke to every single day this past week, trying to flesh out what they can possibly do to go through the United Nations.

You, of course, saw the Brits offer a six-point plan, a six -- six benchmarks that perhaps Saddam Hussein would have to comply with in order to disarm. That was the last compromise you saw.

But by the end of the week it was pretty clear that there was nothing that they were going to be able to do to get any resolution past the U.N. As we were talking about earlier, of course, the White House blames the French in large part for that.

But so -- by the end of the week it became clear that they were going to have to figure out what to do next. And that's exactly what you're seeing here.

Like you said and like Chris said, they are saying up and down that this is not a war summit. This is a diplomacy summit. But what they have to do is to decide, not necessarily where to go from here diplomatically, but perhaps how to end the diplomacy and how to move on with the military action and really to figure out who else is going to be on board besides these three leaders, these four leaders that are going to meet here today.

WOODRUFF: I think it's important to note what you said. The president has been on the phone all week, but he's been talking with the people who are already on the U.S. team, so to speak.

What we're not clear about is whether there -- how much of an outreach there's been to not only the undecided countries but the countries that have said they have difficulty coming along: China, Russia and, of course, the French.

President Bush stepping down, coming down the steps of Air Force One there in the Azores. The president, the last of the three leaders who are very much a part of this crucial trio of countries supporting the U.S. as it faces what now appears to be the imminent military action against Iraq.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer is also here in Washington. Wolf, this is the story today.

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