Pasqua says US ‘used’ him in oil-for-food claim
PARIS, May 16 (AFP) – Former French interior minister Charles Pasqua on Monday accused the US Senate, which has implicated him in the UN oil-for-food scandal in Iraq, of using him as a way to discredit President Jacques Chirac.
“Probably, they think I am close to Jacques Chirac and that I am his adviser. By choosing me, they hope to get at him,” Pasqua told a press conference in Paris.
“The Americans must know that since 1995, I have not been one of Jacques Chirac’s ministers, and in 1998, I broke away from his political movement. If I’ve been chosen as a target on that basis, someone made a mistake.
“I don’t have the impression that I am a victim. I have the impression that I am being used,” said Pasqua, now a member of the French senate.
Last week, a US Senate subcommittee accused Pasqua, along with the controversial British lawmaker George Galloway, of taking massive oil allocation as kickbacks in the 1990s from Saddam Hussein’s regime under the UN oil-for-food programme.
The US Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations based its report on what it said were Iraqi oil ministry documents and the testimony of senior officials in Saddam’s regime, ousted in the US-led invasion in March 2003.
Pasqua on Monday reiterated his denial of the allegations.
“I totally refute the part of the report that refers to me,” he said.
“If my name appears in certain Iraqi documents, that can only be the result of fraudulent behaviour on the part of certain people who have used my name,” the former interior minister said.
“I never went to Iraq, I never met Saddam Hussein and I never met with any Iraqis,” Pasqua added.
Earlier reports pointing the finger at Pasqua’s alleged illicit involvement in the oil-for-food programme emerged in January 2004 in the Iraqi newspaper Al-Mada, and again in October 2004 in a CIA report.
In a letter to Chirac, released to the press on Monday, Pasqua wrote: “The French authorities would be making a grave mistake if they were to take these issues too lightly.”
Subject: French News