Visiting Chilean President Ricardo Lagos on Friday stressed the importance of the U.N. Security Council adopting a fresh resolution before any military action is taken against Iraq.

In an interview with The Japan Times, Lagos said his country, as a nonpermanent member of the U.N. Security Council, will do its utmost to urge member countries to act as one.

“Chile would like to play a role to make the positions of different countries come together,” said Lagos, who arrived Wednesday on a four-day visit to Japan. He added it is possible to find a way for the major powers to agree on a resolution.

But Lagos also hinted that Chile may not support the United States if it tries to go to war without another resolution.

“No matter what kind of resolution, it should have a very strong backing so that Iraq can understand that it is necessary to cooperate,” he said.

The president expressed hope that leaders of European nations will reach a consensus when they meet Monday in Brussels, adding that he still believes an agreement can be reached within the framework of the U.N.

Lagos said he will continue to consult closely with major powers, including the U.S., France and Germany, as well as with Latin American leaders, so that the international community is able to act together on the Iraq issue.

France, Germany and Russia issued a joint statement Monday calling for an extension of the weapons inspection process — a move clearly different from the U.S., which believes further inspections are unnecessary.

Meanwhile, on Friday, Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said she has asked Lagos for his cooperation in supporting a resolution currently drafted by the U.S. government.

“We intend to (persuade nonpermanent members of the U.N. Security Council),” Kawaguchi told reporters.

Lagos also expressed concern that if the U.N. Security Council cannot take sufficient action against Iraq, which has been seen acting against various resolutions for the past 12 years, it would weaken the power of the international organization.

“Nobody wants war,” he said. “But in a crisis like this, it is also essential to strengthen the U.N. mechanism.”

However, if Iraq fails to cooperate, “strong measures” have to be taken, although support is essential from the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, Lagos said without elaborating.

On a possible free trade agreement with Japan, Lagos noted he has no intention of rushing, despite reports that Chile has been eager to start negotiations.

“It is not something that is going to take place tomorrow,” he said, pointing out that it took about 2 1/2 years of negotiations before Chile reached an agreement on an FTA with the United States and Europe.

Mexico support urged

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has written a letter to Mexican President Vicente Fox, calling on Mexico to support the United States’ move to adopt a United Nations resolution on a possible strike on Iraq, government sources said Friday.

Koizumi asked former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, who is leaving for Mexico on Saturday, to hand the letter to Fox, according to the sources.

Mexico is a nonpermanent member of the U.N. Security Council.

Hashimoto will make a four-day trip to Mexico to attend an environmental conference and will meet Fox during his stay.

Although the Japanese government has not explicitly expressed support for the U.S., Koizumi’s move indicates Japan’s willingness as a key U.S. ally to take the initiative in building support for Washington.

Mexico and Chile are considered key countries, especially in gathering support from Latin American nations.

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