Anticipating a certain defeat, the United States, Britain and Spain on Monday withdrew the draft resolution seeking UN approval of war with Iraq.
"Having held discussions over the weekend and in the last few hours with other council members, we have had to conclude that council consensus will not be possible," British Ambassador to theUN Jeremy Greenstock told reporters.
"One country in particular says it will veto any ultimatum 'no matter what circumstances,'" Greenstock said in a short statement,in a clear reference to France's threat to kill the draft text by using its veto power.
"Given these circumstances, we will not pursue a vote on our draft resolution that is in blue," he said.
French Ambassador to the UN Jean-Marc de La Sabliere told reporters that a majority in the Security Council agreed it is "illegitimate" for the council to adopt a resolution authorizing use of force while inspections are producing results.
The two diplomats made the remarks before heading into a closed-door emergency council meeting on Iraq.
The meeting, called at an overnight request by chief UN arms inspector Hans Blix, is expected to discuss the withdrawal of inspectors from Iraq and other related matters.
Blix's spokesman Ewen Buchanan confirmed Monday that the top inspector received a telephone call from the US government Sunday night advising him to withdraw inspectors from Iraq.