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GULF WAR ALLIES EDGE TOWARD CONFRONTATION WITH IRAQ

Gulf war allies are ready to muster support for limited military action against Iraq to end President Saddam Hussein's game of brinkmanship over United Nations cease-fire resolutions, diplomats and officials say.

Although none of the allies want another armed confrontation, there is widespread consensus that Baghdad's defiance will no longer be tolerated, they said.

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"I think all of the allies are fed up with Saddam's continual game of manipulating and undercutting UN resolutions," a senior Western diplomat in Kuwait said.

"The coalition is going to make its views clear ... if he [Saddam] puts himself into a position of challenging UN Security Council resolutions it won't be just an idle threat," he added.

In Washington, a senior administration official told Reuters that the United States was expected to take military action against Iraq soon because of its pattern of violating cease-fire terms.