LAJES, Azores Islands (AP) – On the brink of war, President Bush and summit partners from Britain and Spain gave the United Nations a deadline of today to endorse the use of force to compel Iraq’s immediate disarmament.

“Tomorrow is a moment of truth for the world,” said Bush, commander in chief of 250,000 troops ringing Iraq and ready to act with or without U.N. approval. He spoke yesterday after an Atlantic island summit with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar.

Though the leaders pledged to seek compromise with U.N. foes through the night and all day today, they offered little hope of a diplomatic breakthrough. Even if a compromise plan somehow secured approval of a U.S.-Britain-Spain resolution at the U.N., it would delay military action only a week or so, officials said.

Bush suggested the resolution might not even be put to a vote.

“If Saddam refuses even now to cooperate fully with the United Nations, he brings on himself the serious consequences,” the leaders said in a joint statement. They went on to list their plans for Iraq after hostilities, including repairing damage that might be caused by Saddam Hussein and preserving oil and other natural assets.

The leaders gathered with more than 250,000 troops, a naval armada and an estimated 1,000 combat aircraft positioned in the Persian Gulf area, an American-led force ready to strike if and when the president gives the word.

“The Iraqi regime will disarm itself or the Iraqi regime will be disarmed by force,” Bush said.

The summit, held at a U.S. military base on this dot in the eastern Atlantic, amounted to less than two hours of talks. No more was needed, U.S. officials said, because the conclusion was preordained.

Even as they flew to a meeting billed as a last-ditch bid at diplomacy, Bush and his advisers worked on a major war address that he could deliver as early as tonight. The speech would give Saddam a final ultimatum to disarm or face war, probably within days, senior officials said.

At a post-summit news conference, Bush urged other nations to support “the immediate and unconditional disarmament” of Iraq.

France, Germany and Russia have opposed an additional United Nations resolution to set an ultimatum for the Iraqi leader to disarm – and the French have threatened to veto it. Efforts to win the votes of uncommitted nations at the U.N. Security Council have faltered in recent days.

Blair, speaking with reporters on his plane en route to London, said British diplomats would work through the night to try to persuade France to lift its veto threat of a war resolution.

At the United Nations, diplomats said it was unclear exactly what the United States, Britain and Spain wanted from the Security Council today. France, unmoved by the summit, planned to push ahead with its proposal, a 30-day timetable for Iraq to meet disarmament tasks that would be set by chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix. The plan doesn’t include an ultimatum.

Blair, under the most domestic pressure to get U.N. backing, accused the resolution’s opponents of weakening the alliance against Saddam.

“I have to say that I really believe that had we given that strong message some time ago, Saddam might have realized that the games had to stop,” the prime minister said.

Aznar, the prime minister of Spain, where millions of protesters staged rallies Friday, said he was not dissuaded by dissent.

“We are well aware of the international world public opinion, of its concern, and we are also very well aware of our responsibilities and obligations,” Aznar said.

Portugal Prime Minister Jose Durao Barroso called the Azores summit “the last chance of a political solution. It may be a small chance but if there is only one chance in a million it’s worth trying this opportunity.”

Far from this lush Portuguese archipelago, Saddam warned that if Iraq is attacked, it would take the war anywhere in the world “wherever there is sky, land or water.”

Though Blix was working on details of a plan envisioning that inspections would continue for months – he was to present it to the Security Council on Tuesday – inspectors flew most of their helicopters out of Iraq. Germany advised its citizens to leave the country immediately.

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