Chirac tells Blair: France ready to compromise on Iraq
French President Jacques Chirac told British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Friday Paris was ready to seek compromise with London over disarming Iraq but would not accept any ultimatum leading to war, his spokeswoman said.
Chirac also told Blair by telephone that France was ready to shorten the 120-day timetable for arms inspections it had earlier proposed, spokeswoman Catherine Colonna said. But he added that France wanted any U.N. Security Council agreement on disarming Iraq to continue "in the logic of resolution 1441."
"We cannot accept an ultimatum or automaticity of a recourse to force," Colonna quoted Chirac as telling Blair.
"Before any decision, the inspectors should come back to report to the Security Council and it is up to the Council to decide," he added.
In London, a spokesman for Blair said Chirac "insisted there were no circumstances that France would countenance a new resolution that authorized or implied military action."
Blair replied that only the credible threat of military action could provide the necessary pressure on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to disarm and resolution 1441 warned of serious consequences if he did not comply.
Chirac told Blair that France was ready to review the criteria for disarmament on the basis of a program he said the arms inspectors were due to present. "We are also ready to go below the 120-day period," he added. (Albawaba.com)
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