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US bars France from Iraq

Published on 10/12/2003

PARIS, Dec 10 (AFP) - The French government is studying the legality of the US decision to bar France and other countries from competing for reconstruction contracts in Iraq, the foreign ministry said Wednesday.

“We are liaising with our partners, notably the European Union and Commission, to look into whether these decisions are compatible with international competition law,” said spokesman Herve Ladsous.

A directive from the Pentagon on Tuesday said that the United States is barring French, German and Russian companies from bidding for reconstruction contracts, in apparent retaliation for these countries’ opposition to the war in Iraq.

According to the directive, signed by Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, only the United States, Iraq and 61 other countries designated as coalition partners will be allowed to compete for the 26 contracts, which have a total value of USD 18.6 billion
(EUR 15.2 billion).

The contracts include the provision of equipment for the Iraq army, oil installations, roads and water and electricity supplies.

The decision to exclude specific countries need not necessarily be in breach of World Trade Organisation rules because Iraq is in law a country under occupation, experts in Paris said.

 © AFP

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