France 'investigating Libya WMD talks leak'

20th February 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 19 (AFP) - France's foreign ministry and intelligence services are probing a leak of confidential embassy communications that showed Paris was aware of the US-British negotiations with Libya on weapons of mass destruction despite its assertions to the contrary, an online publication said Thursday.

PARIS, Feb 19 (AFP) - France's foreign ministry and intelligence services are probing a leak of confidential embassy communications that showed Paris was aware of the US-British negotiations with Libya on weapons of mass destruction despite its assertions to the contrary, an online publication said Thursday.

The ministry and one agency, "probably" the domestic counter-espionage directorate, the DST, were looking into how an investigative and satirical newspaper, the Canard Enchaine, came into possession of the cables, extracts of which it published in its December 31 edition, the site, geopolitique.com, said.

The documents were from France's ambassadors in Canada, Libya and the United States and spoke about the negotiations between Britain, Libya and the United States which led to Tripoli's announcement December 22 that it was abandoning its efforts to make weapons of mass destruction.

France's government gave out conflicting reactions immediately after the news, with Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie saying Paris had been kept informed of the talks while Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin insisted that his ministry had not been in the loop.

Alliot-Marie eventually changed her public statements to agree with de Villepin.

But the Canard Enchaine's report, with the cable extracts, raised questions over how much Paris knew and whether it was covering something up.

A foreign ministry spokeswoman, Cecile Pozzo di Borgo, said of the geopolitique.com report that it was the ministry's policy to look into every leak of confidential information.

The Canard Enchaine declined to comment on the matter.

© AFP

                                                              Subject: France news

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