A majority of Americans believe the United States should work to gain the support of the U.N. Security Council even if it means delaying war with Iraq, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The survey found that 56 percent of the public is willing to wait in order to win U.N. endorsement of U.S.-led military strikes against Iraq. Another 39 percent said the United States should "move quickly," even without the Security Council's backing.

Overall support for taking military action against Iraq stands at 63 percent, down slightly from 66 percent in a Post-ABC poll conducted two weeks ago. Half the country continues to believe the United States should move against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein even over the objections of the United Nations, unchanged from earlier this month. A majority -- 57 percent -- would favor taking action without the approval of the United Nations if this country had the support of key allies such as Britain, Australia and Italy.

President Bush's overall job approval rating, which rose after his State of the Union address last month, has returned to its pre-speech level. Currently, 60 percent favorably view Bush's performance as president, down from 64 percent in a Post-ABC poll conducted two weeks ago.

Approval of Bush's handling of the Iraq situation has dropped six points, to 55 percent, since early February. That's slightly higher than his mid-January low, when 50 percent approved of the way he was dealing with the issue.

While criticism mounts for the president's handling of Iraq, there is even more skepticism of the United Nations. Fifty-six percent of those interviewed said they disapproved of the way it was dealing with Iraq and Hussein, while 38 percent said they approved.

A total of 1,024 randomly selected adults were interviewed Feb. 19-23 for this national telephone survey. Margin of sampling error for the overall results is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

-- Richard Morin