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President Bush is genuinely adamant that Saddam Hussein must withdraw from Kuwait or face the military consequences, says US House Speaker Thomas Foley. ``I sit next to him at meetings,'' the Speaker. ``I am convinced that he's deadly serious. I don't think there's any posturing at all,'' he told reporters at a Monitor breakfast.

If President Bush intends to move militarily against Iraqi forces ``I think [he] should come to Congress and ask for'' its backing before initiating any attack, Foley said. The Washington State Democrat added that the president ``has a constitutional and legal obligation'' to ask for such support, probably in the form of a congressional resolution.

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If a resolution were introduced in Congress that sought support for presidential policies in the Gulf, ``it is more likely that it would [pass] than that it would not,'' Foley said carefully.

``What he would clearly not get,'' Foley said of the president at another point, is unanimity. ``It will not be an overwhelming, total consensus supporting the president's going to offensive military action.''

How would he himself vote on such a resolution? Foley ducked the question: ``I don't think I'm going to make a decision on a resolution that hasn't been offered yet.'' He did point out that he has ``made no secret'' that he personally has supported the economic embargo.

If American troops moved against the Iraqi military, Congress would back them, Foley added: ``There is no question that if the president actually engages forces, the Congress will support the forces in the field.''

``The president has the clear power to make war,'' Foley said. ``Whether that's constitutionally appropriate or not is another question, a political and legal question.''

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