Completing her six-day tour of Western Europe and the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Tuesday that she had received assurances of military and political support if the United States needed to strike Iraq.
Albright said that all the Arab leaders she had spoken to during her trip - Egyptians, Saudis, Jordanians, Kuwaitis, Bahrainis and Palestinians - told her that if the United States resorted to military action, Saddam Hussein was to blame.None of the leaders, she said, "urged me to tell the president not to use force.
"While they prefer a diplomatic route, as do we, none of the Arab leaders said, `Go home and tell the president that he should not use force,' " Albright said, though all wanted to discuss the implications of force on the Iraqi people and the region.
Other diplomatic efforts to end the confrontation intensified Wednesday, with French and Russian envoys in Iraq to press hard for a peaceful resolution.
Baghdad has proposed to open up eight sites to inspections by U.N. representatives for one month, according to CNN, which quoted unidentified sources. But the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) says the proposal would not solve the inspectors' difficulties.
Last November, when the crisis first arose over Saddam's efforts to block U.N. inspections of sites suspected to hide biological and chemical weapons, Arab leaders were unanimously opposed to the use of force. But after what appeared to be a diplomatic solution proved illusory, Saddam's intransigence has infuriated and even frightened many of his neighbors.
At news conferences in Bahrain, Cairo and aboard her aircraft, Albright emphasized that she had found "common agreement" that "whatever comes of this - and if military action is necessary - then Saddam Hussein is solely responsible."