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Last Updated:  Thursday, 20 February, 2003, 19:10 GMT
Africa backs France on Iraq
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan (R) addressing the summit
France has threatened to veto a UN resolution on war
Leaders from 52 African countries have backed France's opposition to a military intervention aimed at disarming Iraq.

At their annual Franco-African summit in Paris, they endorsed a statement saying: "There is an alternative to war."

Three African states - Guinea, Cameroon and Angola - sit as non-permanent members on the 15-nation United Nations Security Council.

The White House says the new resolution demanding the disarmament of Iraq will be offered for discussion by the Council next week.

Correspondents say the votes of its three African members could prove decisive.

Call on Baghdad

"The use of force, which entails serious risks of destabilisation for the region, for Africa and for the world, should only be a last resort," the summit said in a joint declaration.

The document called for the continuation of UN weapons inspections as an alternative to war.

"The disarmament of Iraq is the shared goal of the international community," the declaration said.

It called on the Iraqi authorities to "immediately, actively and fully co-operate" with inspectors.

France, a permanent member of the Security Council, has threatened to veto a resolution that would authorise a military intervention in Iraq.

But President George W Bush has reiterated his willingness to act outside the UN process if he needs to.



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