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France revises proposals for UN Iraq resolution
( 2002-10-09 09:29 ) (7 )

France submitted new proposals for a UN draft resolution to the United States and Britain on Tuesday but diplomats said they had not gone far enough yet to accommodate Washington.

France's UN ambassador, Jean-David Levitte, presented a new draft to US ambassador John Negroponte. But one envoy familiar with the document said it appeared similar to a previous one France submitted.

But France, in the new paper, conceded that UN arms inspectors, searching for weapons of mass destruction, needed tougher instructions for inspectors to enter President Saddam Hussein's palace compounds, now subject to special procedures.

"It's new but basically doesn't change very much," the envoy told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Others said, however, its language was closer to a US-drafted resolution, without giving details.

The United States has informally circulated a tough resolution that would rewrite the ground rules for inspections and allow any UN member to decide, without Security Council consultation, when Iraq has violated any terms of the resolution and then launch a military strike.


France still wants two resolutions. The first would say that the 15-member Security Council had to meet immediately following "any serious failure by Iraq to comply with its obligations" and "consider any measure to ensure full compliance." This phrase would include military action.

A second resolution would be needed to explicitly authorize force, if necessary.

France, which circulated its proposals to only a few council members, has said it would only introduce them if the United States formally presented its draft without changes.

The United States considers France crucial in trying to obtain a UN resolution authorizing force against Iraq, with other nations expected to follow once Paris approves.

To be adopted in the 15-member Security Council, a resolution needs nine votes in favor and no veto from its five permanent members -- the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China.

Despite upbeat comments from Washington and Paris, the five permanent council members on Tuesday were still discussing "concepts" rather than detailed wording in the text, a sign that a resolution may not be introduced this week.

"Things are becoming clearer and they could come together this week but there is no indication yet of the movement needed," said one diplomat close to the talks.

France, according to the diplomats, also wants dropped from the US draft the right of the permanent five council members to accompany inspectors and suggest suspected sites. And it opposes US calls for military-enforced "exclusion zones" where Iraqis would be forbidden to drive or fly.


Britain has said it is open to a two-resolution approach and so far Russia is backing France.

In Washington, Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Tuesday it was clear that most council members agreed on the need for a new resolution but acknowledged differences.

"There is now, I believe, a view converging on the need for a new resolution with tough inspection standards," he said.

"The major issue to discuss is how to keep the threat of consequences ... tied as closely as one can to the new requirements that will be placed upon Iraq," Powell said.

In Paris, France's Prime Minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, sharply criticized Iraq on Tuesday and said no option should be ruled out. But he warned that military action not backed by the international community could lead to a split between the Islamic nations and the West.

French diplomats on Monday explained their views to Middle East experts of the 10 nonpermanent council members: Bulgaria, Cameroon, Colombia, Guinea, Ireland, Mauritius, Mexico, Norway, Singapore and Syria.



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