UNITED NATIONS (AP) – Key members on the U.N. Security Council said yesterday that the United States had so far failed to convince them that time had run out for a peaceful resolution to the crisis with Iraq.

At a crucial council meeting a day after President Bush’s State of the Union speech, 11 of the 15 members supported giving more time to weapons inspectors to pursue Iraq’s peaceful disarmament – France, Russia and China who all have veto power as well as Germany, Mexico, Chile, Guinea, Cameroon, Syria, Angola and Pakistan, council diplomats told The Associated Press.

Only Bulgaria and Spain backed the United States and Britain in focusing on Iraq’s failures rather than continued inspections.

In Washington, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said diplomacy was in its “final phase,” and Secretary of State Colin Powell said the United States would try to help find a haven for Saddam Hussein, his family and close aides if he would agree to go into exile.

“That would be one way to try to avoid war,” Powell, who will address the Security Council next Wednesday, said at a news conference.

However, State Department officials said an exile scenario was not under serious consideration.

At the daylong Security Council meeting, which was held behind closed doors, Britain remained squarely in Washington’s camp.

“There are members of the council who are asking for time, but it isn’t a matter of time. It’s a matter of whether Iraq realizes that the game is up, or whether it is trying to keep the inspectors at bay,” British Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock said during a break in the meeting.

U.S. diplomats had hoped yesterday’s council meeting would signal increased international support for military action in Iraq. But neither the largely negative reports from weapons inspectors this week nor Bush’s address altered the positions of some of America’s key allies, including France.

“The majority of the council thinks we should continue inspections,” said French Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere. “This is what they think today, and I think it is important to say so.”

Still, U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte warned that the “diplomatic window is closing,” for the council and “the time for decision-making is fast approaching.”

He said the United States would conduct intense negotiations, both at the United Nations and between capitals, ahead of the special Feb. 5 council meeting where Powell is expected to present evidence of Iraq’s secret weapons programs and links to terrorist groups.

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