No Iraq sovreignty before US withdrawl,says France

25th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Oct 25 (AFP) - The withdrawl of US troops from Iraq would be "a real signal of the return of sovereignty" for the violence-wracked country, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said Monday.

PARIS, Oct 25 (AFP) - The withdrawl of US troops from Iraq would be "a real signal of the return of sovereignty" for the violence-wracked country, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said Monday.

Such a withdrawl should be discussed during an international conference on Iraq to be held in Egypt on November 22-23, Barnier told French television news channel LCI.

A solution to bring stability to Iraq can only be brought about "by negotiation, discussion, a political process, by elections and, at a given moment, by the departure of international troops, notably the American ones," he said.

But while France hoped to see the troop issue put on the conference agenda, it was not making it a precondition to participating, Barnier stressed.

US President George W. Bush's administration has embraced the idea of the conference, long called for by Paris, but French officials have suggested that Iraqi insurgents also have seats at the table and that a pull-out of US-led forces be raised.

Washington wants the conference to rally international support ahead of Iraq elections which continue to be planned for January despite the daily bloodshed in Iraqi cities and towns.

Barnier said of the elections that "everything must be done so that they take place as planned" but he added "that will be difficult".

The French minister on Monday chaired a smaller regional meeting looking at the situation in Iraq. The gathering - of foreign ministers and senior diplomats from 11 EU, north African and Middle East countries - took place in Paris under the aegis of the Mediterranean Forum.

The forum's members comprise Algeria, Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia and Turkey.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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