WASHINGTON -- As Congress promised a quick vote on using military force against Iraq, President Bush on Friday pressed a campaign to swing Russia behind the tough American stance against President Saddam Hussein.
Bush met at the White House with Russia's foreign and defense ministers amid indications there might be room for compromise.
Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov was quoted by the ITAR-Tass news agency as saying Russia's position would depend on the information the Bush administration provides about Baghdad's possession of weapons of mass destruction.
However, Russia held to its view that an Iraqi offer to readmit weapons inspectors should be accepted. Information on Iraq's weapons programs could be confirmed or disproved only "on the spot," Ivanov said.
Bush wants Congress to approve a resolution authorizing the use of military force against Iraq in what would be a show of unity to back the president's effort to gain support on Iraq from Russia and other wary nations.
Bush called Russian President Vladimir Putin early Friday, before the meeting with high-level Russian officials here. The White House had no immediate comment on the telephone call.
Both Democratic and Republican leaders welcomed a draft proposal that Bush offered Thursday, in which Congress would authorize the president to "use all means," including military force, to defend U.S. national security interests against the threat posed by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
Senate Republican leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., said both the House and Senate could vote on the resolution as early as the first week in October before lawmakers go home to campaign for the Nov. 5 election. He said lawmakers would review the president's proposal over the weekend, but "I'm perfectly happy with the language."
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., agreed that "there is absolutely no difference of opinion with regard to the threat that Saddam Hussein poses and the need to address that threat in a multitude of ways." He said Democrats wanted some changes in the wording of the proposal, but were confident a broad consensus could be reached.
Before going to the White House, Ivanov and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov met at the State Department with Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld.
At the same time, the White House was releasing a policy document emphasizing a change in U.S. military strategy toward reliance on a first-strike or pre-emptive stance in the post-Cold War era of terrorist threats.
Bush often has talked of this changing national security posture, and "The National Security Strategy of the United States" is a report that the president must, under law, submit to Congress.
"America is now threatened less by conquering states than we are by failing ones," states the document, first reported by The New York Times.
Asked about this Friday, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, voiced some reservations. The Iowa Republican called it "a projection of America's international leadership."
But in an interview on NBC's "Today" program, he said, "The United States should never forecast to the rest of the world that we desire one inch of foreign territory."
Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri, meanwhile, repeated to the United Nations that Iraq was ready to accept, without conditions, the return of inspectors, and that Iraq had no biological, chemical or nuclear weapons.
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