France rules out troops for Iraq

10th May 2004, Comments 0 comments

BRUSSELS, May 10 (AFP) - France on Monday strongly ruled out sending troops to Iraq, but said it was prepared to take part in economic and political reconstruction with its EU partners under the auspices of the United Nations.

BRUSSELS, May 10 (AFP) - France on Monday strongly ruled out sending troops to Iraq, but said it was prepared to take part in economic and political reconstruction with its EU partners under the auspices of the United Nations.

"There is no question of France sending troops to Iraq, that is clear," Foreign Minister Michel Barnier told reporters before holding talks here with top Belgian government officials.

Last month, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said the French military might be used to protect UN officials who are likely to oversee the electoral process in war-torn Iraq.

"I'm not expecting any French troops, but there might be other things that France would be able to do," Powell told the Times newspaper in London in an interview on April 30.

In an interview with AFP in Washington on Friday, Powell said he had not yet received a "definitive answer" from France.

Barnier said that "when the time comes, we will take part in the economic and political reconstruction of Iraq," adding that what he had in mind was renegotiating Iraq's debts and "EU participation in economic projects."

He said that, on condition that the scheduled transfer of sovereignty from US-led forces to an Iraqi authority on June 30 is "sincere, readable and clear," France might agree to help train police or security personnel.

It is "extremely important" that the UN Security Council pass a new resolution before June 30 to "define the framework for the transfer and the political reconstruction of Iraq," he said, adding: "We are trying to persuade the Americans to agree to a real transfer of sovereignty."

This means that the interim Iraqi government charged with preparing elections for January 2005 "must have its say on security matters, the presence of the multinational force and the management of the country's resources," Barnier said.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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