France opposes regime change in Baghdad while U.S. tries to win support for tough U.N. resolution
France does not favour any unilateral action against Iraq to remove President Saddam Hussein, Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said in an interview published Friday.
"If we were to aim at changing regimes, then we are going into a process where we do not know where to end," Villepin told The Hindu newspaper. "Also, who is to judge which regime is good or bad? It will be a source of instability and other countries might be a target after Iraq," he added.
In the present crisis, Villepin said Iraq needed to agree to the unconditional return of UN weapons inspectors and that if it failed to comply, the UN Security Council could meet again to consider action. He noted that any action should be the responsibility of the United Nations, not the United States. "Let us not pre-judge Iraq," the minister said.
"We want the international community to send a strong signal to Arabs and other countries that there was no hidden agenda," Villepin said. "And if Iraq failed on compliance, the Security Council could meet again and consider various options."
Despite this stance, the United States intensified efforts to win over Russian and French support for a toughly-worded U.N. resolution on Iraq but Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday he "was a long way from getting an agreement."
The state department dispatched Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman to Moscow and Paris Thursday to help sell the U.S. plan for a resolution that would lay out a tighter timetable for Iraqi compliance with weapons inspections and authorize force if Saddam fails to do so.
In a sign of U.S.-British agreement on the direction of a resolution, Grossman will be accompanied by a British diplomat. "We are a long way from getting an agreement but we are working hard," Powell told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington.
The United States had hoped to push through the resolution by Monday, Sept. 30, when chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix is due to hold talks with Iraqi experts in Vienna to finalize plans for the inspectors' return. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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