France backs Iraq resolution

8th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 8 (AFP) - France said on Tuesday it would back a US-British resolution on Iraq's future in the UN Security Council after forcing Washington to make several changes, notably on what control a Baghdad government would have over US-led forces.

PARIS, June 8 (AFP) - France said on Tuesday it would back a US-British resolution on Iraq's future in the UN Security Council after forcing Washington to make several changes, notably on what control a Baghdad government would have over US-led forces.

The resolution, which was revised four times to address reservations expressed by France and other countries, covers the transfer of powers from the US forces occupying Iraq to an interim Iraqi government which is to take the reins on June 30.

Germany, which has a temporary seat on the UN Security Council, also said it supported the modified draft resolution, which was expected to be put to the vote later Tuesday or on Wednesday.

The United States, Britain, France, Russia and China all have permanent seats on the council conferring veto power over any resolution.

Threats from France and Russia to use their veto in the run-up to the Iraq war last year forced the United States and Britain to go ahead with their invasion without an international mandate despite their insistence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that posed an immediate threat.

French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier told the radio station France Inter that his country had decided to vote in favour of the new resolution after getting many of its demands met, particularly in fixing a date for the departure of the 160,000 US forces in Iraq.

He added that a key request to give the Iraq government veto power over US military operations in its country had been ignored, but "that will not prevent us from voting in favour in New York".

Having initially disregarded the French demand for an Iraqi veto, Britain and the United States later amended their draft resolution to pledge that US-led forces would cooperate with the Iraqi government on "sensitive offensive operations".

Barnier hailed the fact that "for the first time" there had been a "real dialogue" between France and the United States on Iraq, after months of trying to patch up their differences.

"You find in this text many of our ideas," he said, stressing the set limit on the mandate of the US-led multinational force.

The mandate "is going to be limited to 12 months and if there is a request to extend it presented by the Iraqi authorities then there will be a limit to this international presence of December 31, 2005," Barnier said.

"I think the Americans have clearly understood now that... we have to resolve this tragedy through a political process," he said.

French President Jacques Chirac and US President George W. Bush, in a joint media conference Saturday in Paris on the eve of D-Day anniversay commemorations, said they had narrowed their differences over the resolution.

Chirac called the situation in Iraq "precarious" and said only a full transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqis would put an end to the "disorder" that is reigning there.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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