Washington Puts More Pressure Over Chile and Mexico

US phone diplomacy turns into a hot line, as Bush still looks for support from the two Latin American seats at the UN Security Council
Versions about an affirmative response from Chile and Mexico to the US plans on Iraq spread out as quickly as vanished on Wednesday. Soon after Chilean President Ricardo Lagos confirmed to the press he had had a phone conversation with George W. Bush, the local and international media, mainly CNN, said Washington had secured Chile's support.

Lagos immediately denied such versions and said that his Government did not pledge support to USA at the Council. Besides, high sources in Santiago said that Chile would not back British initiative, as it does not clearly state what Iraqi disarmament means. In fact, President Lagos had said during the weekend that March 17 deadline was "short time" and an unrealistic timetable to disarmament.

CNN said that Mexico and Chile were ready to support a new resolution at the UN Security Council if both countries were allowed to participate in the wording. However, local newspapers could not check this information, as both Governments still do not announce their formal position on this issue. Therefore, there are no elements to think that neither Santiago not Mexico DF have modified their primary intention to abstain.

Mexico's President Vicente Fox will be out of his functions this week as recovers from a surgery at the Mexican Military Hospital. However, from the bed, could answer some questions from the press regarding Iraq. "We look for all the diplomatic alternatives to give this conflict a peaceful solution", said Fox.

The combination of words "peaceful" and "diplomatic" are the same Lagos uses to refer to Chile's position. Obviously they sound closer to the French and Russian approaches and far from the US and UK vocabulary on Iraq.

What is clear is that as long as Bush's plans find more and more resistance inside the United Nations, pressure over Mexico and Chile will increase. US Congressmen announced on Thursday that they would create a committee to support Mexican trading position at the Parliament. Not yet clear on its function, the commission may have authority to deal with Mexican affairs in Washington.

However, according to the last reports from New York, Chile and Mexico prepare a new draft resolution that would have the support from the other four "hesitant" nations: Pakistan, Guinea, Angola and Cameroon. As per French ambassador to the United Nations it is expected to be a consensus position that join demands from both parties in dispute.

Hernan Etchaleco PRAVDA.Ru Argentina

Photo: Fox (left) and Lagos (right). A common position looks like the best way to keep an independent line on Foreign Policy

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