Germany says peace is the answer  
 By Emma Thomasson

BERLIN (Reuters) - Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder says Germany, France,
Russia, China and the majority of the U.N. Security Council still
believe Iraq could be disarmed peacefully and said weapons inspections
should go on.

"It is still possible to solve this conflict peacefully," Schroeder told
the German parliament in a state of the nation address on Friday. "The
inspections and the inspectors are an important instrument that must not
be allowed to end now."

"Together with our French friends, with Russia, China and the majority
of the Security Council, we are more convinced than ever that the
disarmament of Iraq of weapons of mass destruction can be brought about
by peaceful means."

The United States and Britain have agreed to continue negotiations until
Monday on a resolution authorising military action in Iraq, although
some diplomats have suggested they may abandon a vote altogether rather
than face rejection.

The United States needs a minimum of nine votes in the 15-member
Security Council for approval of the resolution, but amid a threat by
France to veto the measure none of six key undecided nations said they
were ready to support the measure.

Instead, they told the council in a closed-door session on Thursday they
would submit their own suggestions and see if they were acceptable to
Britain, which has proposed six tests Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
must fulfil to avoid war.

Schroeder, whose vocal anti-war stance has infuriated the United States,
said recent reports by U.N. weapons inspectors showed that the Baghdad
government was cooperating more actively in disarmament. He also noted
Iraq`s destruction of al-Samoud missiles.

"With an extended inspection regime, we can achieve a lasting and
verifiable disarmament and that is why it was and remains right that we
have insisted on the logic of peace rather than entering into a logic of
war," he said.

Schroeder said Iraq must cooperate with international disarmament
controls so that economic sanctions under which the Iraqi people were
suffering could be lifted finally.

Schroeder also said Germany could only fulfil its responsibilities in a
"multipolar world order of peace and justice" if it did so on the basis
of a strong, united Europe.

But Schroeder made no mention of the idea of a "two-speed" European
Union built around an inner core of the EU`s six founding members
pushing ahead with closer integration while less enthusiastic members
like Britain remained outside.

Media reports had suggested that Schroeder`s speech could raise the
idea, discussed by Schroeder and Italian Prime Minister Silvio
Berlusconi at talks earlier this month, because of deep splits within
the EU over Iraq.