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Tuesday, 8 October, 2002, 22:42 GMT 23:42 UK
France sees compromise on Iraq
French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin in parliament
France remains strongly opposed to war
Signs have emerged of a possible compromise on how to deal with Iraq between the United States and other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

The French Foreign Ministry said a constructive dialogue was under way on a new Security Council resolution.

The French comments came as Iraq dismissed as "misleading" a speech by President Bush in which he warned Baghdad to disarm or be disarmed.

In his address to the nation on Monday, President Bush also said that war with Iraq was not a foregone conclusion.

With no draft resolution yet agreed, it now seems likely that the UN Security Council will not meet on the issue before next week.

Raffarin warning

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Francois Rivasseau said in Paris that progress was being made on the new resolution.

"We are not yet at the point of working on a single text but the dialogue we are having is very constructive," he said. "Things are coming together."


The law does not rule out resorting to force but international rules rule out unilateral force

French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin

Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin used his first major foreign affairs speech to the French parliament to warn again that any operation against Iraq must have United Nations backing.

"The law does not rule out resorting to force but international rules rule out unilateral force," he said.

But he warned Baghdad that it could not keep defying the Security Council.

While war must be a last resort, he said, no option was excluded provided it had the Security Council's support.

In Moscow, Foreign Minister Ivanov said Russia would support proposals aimed at making UN weapons inspectors more effective.

"If proposals are submitted to the UN Security Council that raise the effectiveness of weapons inspectors in Iraq, we will support them," he said, without giving details.

French objections

President Bush stressed in a new speech on Tuesday that military action was his "last choice".

In his TV address on Monday, he called on Iraq to stop "denying, deceiving and delaying" over its the weapons of mass destruction it allegedly still possesses.

George W Bush
Bush starkly outlined the alleged Iraqi threat in his speech

But the Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri dismissed the speech as a "misleading attempt to justify an attack".

He said US and British threats of military action were illegal.

The BBC's diplomatic correspondent, Barnaby Mason, says that it is still not clear what compromise may be possible with Washington.

French objections to the draft resolution favoured by America and Britain are not confined to its option for military action - which would, if the French and the Russians prevail, have to feature in separate, follow-up resolution.

The French object to some of the draconian powers it proposes for the inspectors either:

  • The declaration of exclusion zones in Iraq
  • The right to take Iraqis out of the country for questioning
  • A big say in the inspections for the five permanent members of the Security Council, including the United States.

Diplomatic lull

Diplomats at the UN now say it may be next week before the Security Council meets to consider the new resolution.

No document has yet to be circulated among the non-permanent members of the Security Council.

Our correspondent notes that the sense of diplomatic urgency which followed President Bush's speech to the UN General Assembly on 12 September has all but disappeared.

Diplomats said Iraq was not even discussed at the Security Council's monthly lunch with Secretary-General Kofi Annan.


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Should the weapons inspectors go into Iraq now?

Yes
 79.51% 

No
 20.49% 

61425 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

08 Oct 02 | Americas
08 Oct 02 | Americas
08 Oct 02 | Americas
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