International diplomacy has failed in its attempt to disarm Iraq, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Friday in Rome after meeting with Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino, Rumsfeld thanked Italy for its support in the international fight against terrorism and for signing the so-called Document of the Eight, in which eight European countriesthrew their support behind the United States in its determination to rid Iraq of its alleged weapons of mass destruction.
Rumsfeld said Washington appreciated Berlusconi's diplomatic efforts to rally support for the "global war on terrorism."
"Debate in Europe and the international community on a possiblewar against Iraq is certainly healthy, but the world must know that the weapons in Saddam Hussein's possession are certainly moredangerous than conventional weapons and are capable of killing thousands of men, women and children," Rumsfeld said.
"The international community must do something to prevent this risk. We are dealing with a dictatorial regime which has already invaded its neighbors and is capable of using weapons of mass destruction which could have a devastating effect on the whole world," he added.
Rumsfeld said the United States has made it clear to Saddam that he cannot use chemical and bacteriological weapons, and if hedoes "then he is going to regret it big time."
Rumsfeld arrived in Rome Friday morning on the first stop of a three-day European tour aimed at convincing Washington's allies toback its policy on Iraq. He will also visit the US base in Aviano,northern Italy, before traveling on to Germany.
Italian Defense Minister Martino told the press conference that the credibility of the United Nations was at stake if it did not enforce its resolutions on disarming Iraq.
According to Martino, whether the Italian military would join in a war against Iraq "is a decision which the government must make and that parliament must approve."
When asked about Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tarek Aziz' upcoming visit to the Vatican, Martino said: "the Holy See has itsown foreign policy and it would be inopportune for a minister of the Republic of Italy to make any comment on this policy."