USIS Washington 

19 February 1998


(U.S. preference is for diplomatic solution) (270)

By Rick Marshall

USIA Staff Writer

Washington -- "The United States will not only support but welcome a
diplomatic solution" to the Iraq crisis provided its maintains "the
integrity of UNSCOM," Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott said
February 19 at the Foreign Press Center.

"Nobody, including the United States, wants military force used,"
Talbott said. But to be effective against Saddam Hussein, diplomacy
must be backed by force, he said.

If necessary, the United States will act to reduce significantly
Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capability and its means to
threaten its neighbors, Talbott said.

"We will have more than enough support" to act, he added.

Talbott then turned to United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan's
visit to Baghdad. "We have a very high regard for the Secretary
General," he said, adding that he was sure that Annan sees his mission
as informing Saddam Hussein that he must comply fully with the U.N.
Security Council resolutions.

"He must agree to let UNSCOM come back in and do its job," he said.
The weapons inspectors must have "free, full, and unfettered access"
to go where they need and they must continue to report directly to the
U.N. Security Council without any loss of authority, he stressed.

Talbott conceded that the United States is concerned about the impact
of the Iraq crisis on U.S. interests, but he insisted that if this
challenge is not met, and Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction
are not checked, the Arab world "will be among the victims."