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The World Reacts to Bush's Ultimatum

President George W. Bush has given Saddam Hussein 48 hours to leave Iraq or face war. In the wake of his speech, international figures expressed their views on the latest development in the crisis.


A moment of truth for the world?

"We are in favor of solving the problem exclusively by peaceful
means. Any other development would be a mistake fraught with the toughest consequences, leading to victims and the destabilization of the international situation as a whole." -- Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"These events will determine the pattern of international politics for the next generation. They will determine the way Britain and the world confronts the so-called security threat of the 21st century, the development of the United Nations, the relation between Europe and the United States and the relations within the European Union and the way the United States engages with the rest of the world." -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair

"We believe the use of force against Iraq, especially with reference to previous resolutions of the UN Security Council, has no grounds, including legal grounds." -- Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.

"My fellow citizens: the world stands on the threshold of war. My question remains: Does the level of threat posed by the Iraqi dictator (President Saddam Hussein) justify war, which will result in the deaths of thousands of innocent men, women and children? My answer remains: No." -- German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.

"Shirking the legitimacy of the United Nations, privileging force over justice, that would be taking on a huge responsibility. There is no justification for a unilateral decision to resort to force. Iraq today does not represent an immediate threat that justifies an immediate war." -- French President Jacques Chirac.

"I believe it was an anguished decision. President Bush has made various efforts to gain international co-operation. I believe it was an unavoidable decision... I support the U.S. stance." -- Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

"The Iraqi situation is like an arrow in the bow on the verge of flight. However, as long as there is a glimpse of hope, we will not give up our efforts for a political and peaceful solution. Every effort should be made to avoid war." -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao .

"This will destablise not only the region but other parts of the world. So, I think this would be a mistake, a grave mistake on the part of the American administration to launch this war against my country." -- Iraq's Ambassador to the UN Mahmood al-Douri.

"Chief weapons inspector Hans Blix has demonstrated the inspections are showing progress. In that context, to launch military action, when we only need a few more weeks or a few more months, is unjustifiable." -- Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson.

"We are concerned that the U.S. is creating the impression that diplomatic efforts have failed and the only sure thing is war. Obviously we consider any steps taken without the consent of the U.N. Security Council as having no legality." --Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman Marty Natalegawa.

"I'm saddened, saddened that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we're now forced to war." -- U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota.

"We reject totally the argument put by France and by some other countries that the presence of inspectors will lead, over the passage of time, to disarmament. We cannot and will not ignore the experience of the last 12 years. We believe that the time has come to disarm Iraq, by force if necessary. We are participating in the U.S. led coalition to achieve this objective." -- Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

"I can't accept collective responsibility for the decision to commit Britain now to military action in Iraq without international agreement or domestic support." -- Leader of the British House of Commons Robin Cook who resigned on Monday.

"The time has come to take a stance. The international community has demanded for 12 years that Saddam Hussein give up his weapons of mass destruction, but Saddam Hussein has not cooperated (in this respect). It is unacceptable to make a mockery of the international community's authority." -- Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen. "Like most countries, our strong preference was for the disarmament of Iraq to occur peacefully... At this 11th hour, our government urges Iraq to seize this very last opportunity to avert the catastrophe of war." -- New Zealand's Prime Minister Helen Clark.

"Mexico reiterates its support for the multilateral route to solve conflicts and regrets the path to war. The world has to continue pushing solutions that comply with the letter and spirit of the U.N. charter, which establishes that the use of force should be the last and exceptional recourse, justified only when other methods have failed." -- Mexican President Vicente Fox.

"Malaysia deeply regrets the statement by the President of the U.S. announcing the end of diplomatic efforts and the imminent use of unilateral force to disarm Iraq," -- Acting Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

"If military action proceeds without a new resolution of the Security Council, Canada will not participate. We will hope there will be no war. I'm not very optimistic." -- Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien.