Deputy Chairman of the State Duma international committee Konstantin Kosachev believes the participants of the Azores summit of the USA, Great Britain and Spain did not discuss whether a war should be waged at all, but where this war would start and in what form it would be led. "The military operation is not aimed at helping the Iraqi people, but changing the unwanted regime," he added.
Kosachev also believes that during the Azores summit the USA failed to persuade Great Britain and Spain to make a joint statement on the use of force if Saddam Hussein fails to fulfil the ultimatum of the anti-Iraqi coalition.
In this context George Bush alone will be responsible for the decision to launch a military operation in Iraq, Kosachev pointed out. "Obviously, Blair and Aznar refused to share responsibility for this issue". According to the deputy, it proves that the British and Spanish governments are in a very complicated situation, for they must take into consideration their countries' public opinion, which, as we know, is very negative about the idea of using force in Iraq.
The deputy chairman of the State Duma international committee also said "the ultimatum presented to the UN to make a decision on the Iraqi issue within 24 hours" was "strange". Kosachev believes it was inadmissible to establish any conditions and terms to the UN. Moreover, the demand is absolutely unrealisable, as consultations on this issue will start not earlier than 11 p.m., Moscow time, the deputy pointed out. Kosachev also stressed that the established time contradicted the initiative of Russia, France and Germany implying that the Iraqi problem must be discussed by the countries' foreign ministers.
State Duma Vice-Speaker Vladimir Lukin, in his turn, said that using force against Iraq without a UN sanction "would be a direct aggression, according to the classical international experience." Lukin believes military operations against Iraq will destabilise the situation in the region and cause a wave of terrorist attacks against the USA. This time these attacks would be taken objectively in the world, especially in the Arabian region, he pointed out.
The Azores summit participants tried to replace "sanctions of the UN Security Council for starting a military operation in Iraq" by "some surrogate", Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Defence Committee Alexei Arbatov told RIA Novosti. "It is now obvious that this sanction has not received the majority of votes, even for a moral victory," he continued. This "surrogate decision" will only make the anti-Iraqi coalition's resolution look more legitimate, according to Arbatov.
Saddam Hussein could not have accepted the anti-Iraqi coalitions' ultimatum demanding his disarmament even if would want to," Arbatov added. In this case the demand is not filled with any content. It is similar to the demand of the Stalin times when those accused of anti-Soviet moods were forced to disarm before the party, the deputy chairman of the State Duma Defence Committee stressed.
In general, Arbatov believes "the Azores summit's decision in fact means an end to the diplomatic stage and a step towards the introduction of military law in this country".
An unidentified man wielding a knife attacked civilians in the Church of Notre Dame in the French city of Nice. Three people were killed, several others were hospitalised with injuries.One of the victims was beheaded