Despite the imminence of war, several foreign ministers are attending a meeting of the UN Security Council on Wednesday to hear the chief UN weapons inspector, Hans Blix, set out what Iraq still has to do to account for its weapons of mass destruction.
US Secretary of State Colin Powell will not be attending the council's session this time
The French, Russian and German foreign ministers will be there; their American and British counterparts will not.
In advance of the meeting, France has complained to Britain about remarks blaming it for the breakdown of negotiations in the council.
The recriminations between the rival big-power camps are continuing on the eve of war.
Over the past few days, the United States and Britain have repeatedly accused France of wrecking the chance of reaching an agreed position in the Security Council on Iraqi disarmament.
The British Government has been particularly outspoken and undiplomatic, with different ministers describing as extraordinary and unreasonable the French threat to veto a new resolution whatever the circumstances.
Now the French Foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin, has telephoned his British counterpart, Jack Straw, to express shock and sadness at these remarks.
According to Paris, he said they were not worthy of a friendly nation and European partner; as for the charge that France was to blame for the failure to agree on a new resolution, that did not fool anyone.
These exchanges do not bode well for the Security Council session.
One American official is quoted as describing it as an unusual meeting detached from reality.
With the UN weapons inspectors withdrawn from Iraq, another report from Hans Blix setting out what the Iraqis still have to do on weapons of mass destruction can make little practical difference.
But the French Government and its allies want to underline their disagreement with President Bush's decision to go to war by appearing in strength in the Security Council - the body which they say he is abandoning.
I think political pressure, and even more military pressure, was essential to get the Iraqis to declare and to co-operate, but I think that when pressure is transformed into the use of force, then that's a disaster
UN chief weapons inspectors Hans Blix
On Monday, President Chirac said there was a heavy responsibility on those who threw off the legitimacy of the United Nations and preferred force over the law.
The French may also hope to show in the session that majority opinion in the council is still with them, and to enlist Hans Blix in their cause.
Speaking before the meeting, Mr Blix said he believed the inspections should have continued.
"I think political pressure, and even more military pressure, was essential to get the Iraqis to declare and to co-operate, but I think that when pressure is transformed into the use of force, then that's a disaster," he said.