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Last Updated:  Thursday, 27 March, 2003, 15:06 GMT
France presses UN Iraq role
Dominique de Villepin gives address
De Villepin wants to restore relationship with US
French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin has insisted that the United Nations must be at the heart of rebuilding Iraq after the war.

But he also said France was ready to rebuild its relationship with the US, placed under severe strain by France's efforts to stop the war going ahead.

Mr De Villepin, in a speech in London, said the Iraqi crisis had "shattered" the established world order.

France's main priority in the reconstruction of Iraq would be for the UN to pass a humanitarian resolution on the oil-for-food programme, he said.

The UN must be at the heart of the reconstruction and administration of Iraq
Dominique de Villepin
French Foreign Minister
And in the rebuilding as a whole, the UN had to have supremacy, he said.

"The UN must steer the process," Mr De Villepin told the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

"More importantly, the UN must be at the heart of the reconstruction and administration of Iraq.

"The legitimacy of our action depends on it.

"We must come together to build peace together in a region rife with a sense of insecurity and deep fault lines."

But making clear that French objections to the war remained, he challenged the "doctrine of pre-emptive military intervention".

"In endorsing this doctrine, we risk introducing the principle of constant instability and uncertainty," he said.

These times of great changes call for a renewed close and trusting relationship with the United States - France is ready
Dominque de Villepin
"If we want to develop the right answers to the challenges of the modern world and to take appropriate measures, including the use of force, we must do so with the authority of collective decisions."

On the issue of rebuilding the shattered Paris-Washington ties, Mr De Villepin said the two capitals shared common values that would help rebuild a trusting bond and re-assert trans-Atlantic solidarity.

"These times of great changes call for a renewed close and trusting relationship with the United States. France is ready," Mr De Villepin said.

"Because they share common values, the United States and France will re-establish close co-operation in complete solidarity."

His comments echo remarks by French President Jacques Chirac, who said disagreements over Iraq should not obscure what he called a long and deep friendship.

World War II

Mr De Villepin added that current difficulties in relations with the UK should also be overcome - saying he could not forget Britain's help to the French during World War II.

Correspondents say Paris has recently sought to play down tensions with Washington and London, which had alarmed some of President Chirac's own supporters.

France and Russia - key opponents of the war - have now found common position again on the importance of the UN's role in post-war Iraq.

But they have not specified whether a post-war administration would have to be led by the UN, or merely endorsed by it.

It currently appears as if Iraq's immediate post-war administration will be set up by the US, with only a limited role for the United Nations.

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