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Chilean Ambassador Addresses Reporters

Aired February 27, 2003 - 13:40   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: The full Security Council has been meeting for much of the day, considering a second resolution on Iraq.
JUAN GABRIEL VALDES, CHILEAN AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: ... we believe the millions of people who have expressed their wish for the council to find a way of peace demands the council, and very specifically the five permanent members, to be able to find a process of disarmament of Iraq that will be respected, that will be effective and will be seen by the world community as a legitimate decision by the Security Council.

This divided council is in fact throwing the decision on the shoulders of the elected members, while the permanent members stick to their positions without making effort to approximate their views.

We have indicated today that inspections cannot be eternal, that we want the inspectors to give us their plan of work, and we would like to set up those demands to Iraq that are crucial for the disarmament process and that would allow us in a short time to see the culmination of the disarmament process.

Only then the Security Council could really take a decision by a substantive majority that would express the legitimate will of the international community. This is our position.

QUESTION: How was that appeal received, Ambassador, how was that appeal received by the other council members?

VALDES: I think it was received with respect and with interest.

QUESTION: Is this along the lines of the Canadian proposal? Is this a similar thing?

VALDES: We are very interested in the Canadian proposal, and we will make consultations with other members on the lines that the Canadian proposal establishes.

QUESTION: Ambassador, when you say you want the Security Council effective and united, does that mean that Chile is not necessarily against the use of force? If the majority on the council opt for use of force, Chile would support that?

VALDES: Chile has always indicated that the use of force is part -- is authorized by the charter of the United Nations and therefore we do not discard the use of force.

QUESTION: If a compromise is not reached with a unified position, would you still support the American and Spanish and British proposal or would you defy it?

VALDES: The "still support" is out of the question. We have never indicated to any side that we support them. We have indicated that we are in a position of study and reflection on the proposals that have been made to the council, but we have thought important to open our participation in this debate indicating that the council has to assume its responsibilities, and particularly the members who have a veto cannot continue in a debate in which there is no communications. This has been our position.

Now, let me say that if we find a way to incorporate the elected members in a new proposal and we believe that this proposal can make way in the council, we will do it very soon.

QUESTION: Do you have any ideas on that?

VALDES: We have indicated that the ideas proposed in the Canadian paper are very interesting to us.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, you said that you would want this to be done in a short time, that the council would set demands and allow a short time to see if the disarmament process worked. How short a time are you working? Are you working on the Canadian time line, March 28 or thereabout? And is it fair for us to say that as a result of this that you're taking now the Canadian proposal on and it's becoming de facto a proposal now of the -- if not the E-10, at least a middle six?

VALDES: Let me say that what I'm referring to is to what we said this morning, I'm not referring to what we will do tomorrow morning. We are just beginning to put an idea on the table and we want to examine this idea with our colleagues. This is the way in which the council should work.

We believe that the Canadian proposal has good ideas. These ideas are not necessarily new, but they are useful at this point in time.

QUESTION: But the proposal paves the way for military action eventually, isn't it?

VALDES: The proposal should be consulted with the inspectors in order to see the timetable is a realistic timetable. We would like the inspections to culminate and not simply to be left without having their complete cycle finished.

QUESTION: Doesn't this put too much onus on Blix in making him the "thumbs up, thumbs down" decision-maker?

VALDES: No, because we believe that the only way in which the council can find an agreement on the degree of compliance by Iraq is having the amount of time and the amount of information from the inspectors that will allow a more clear and objective and precise evaluation of the level of Iraq compliance.

QUESTION: Ambassador, just one more please. How much coordination is there between Chile and Mexico, on the one hand...

VALDES: Complete.

QUESTION: ... and Chile and Spain on the other.

VALDES: Complete coordination with Mexico. We have chosen with Mexico a path which is not the path of those who have already supported at this point in time one or the other position.

QUESTION: Ambassador, is Chile worried about ramifications in its relationship with the U.S.?

VALDES: We are worried, first of all, of the destiny of this organization and of the Security Council if a decision is wrong, a decision is taken without the support that would indicate to the international community that there is an effective decision being taken.

We are participating in this body without arrogance, without cynicism and without power. We are a country that has defended and supported international law and that believes fully in multilateralism and in the United Nations, and this is our concern.

QUESTION: Your president is meeting tomorrow an envoy from the White House. What is the message of President Lagos is going to deliver to him?

VALDES: You should ask President Lagos tomorrow.

OK, thank you very much.

QUESTION: ... Spanish, sir?

KAGAN: We've been listening in there to the Chilean ambassador to the United Nations, that is Juan Gabriel Valdes. Very interesting insight there to see the frustration of the countries that are in the middle, have not decided to go with the U.S. and Britain and Spain, or go the direction of France and Germany and the others.

For more on this, let's bring in our Richard Roth -- Richard, you heard a lot of talk about the Canadian proposal, and some dates perhaps, that would really draw the line in the sand for the Iraqis. Can you tell us more about the Canadian proposal?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: The Canadian proposal, which is not a resolution, has been floated to the Security Council as a way of a compromise to close the gap between the two sides. It basically moves up the timetable for what the United Nations weapons inspectors would want Iraq to do, but it kind of twists things around.

The U.S. doesn't like the weapons inspectors telling Iraq here's what we need. The U.S. and Britain say Iraq has to fully disclose on its own. It doesn't have to be queried about each issue, because a lot could be left out. Now, already, the State Department yesterday rejected the Canadian plan for now, saying -- quote -- "it only procrastinates on a decision that we should all be prepared to take." Basically, Canada would say the Iraqis will give the answer to the inspectors, and then the Security Council would vote: did Iraq cooperate, like a final vote, a blowout vote. But so far, there's not agreement on this.

Germany, France, others have criticized this proposal. The nonpermanent members like Chile are interested in it because it is something that represents a compromise that perhaps could keep the pressure on Iraq to comply on some form of disarmament and bring an end to this endless debate by having a last vote. But right now, it doesn't have much traction, Daryn, though it could gain support if this deadlock continues.

KAGAN: All right. Richard Roth at the United Nations, thank you so much. And as you heard the Chilean ambassador say, the five permanent member, figure it out, they're sick of being stuck in the middle. We'll continue to have coverage from the United Nations.


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