French, German, Russian govts issue joint statement
ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Wed Feb 12 02:05:32 MST 2003
(apologies for any duplicate postings)
----- Original Message -----
From: <Gergnoid at aol.com>
Sent: Tuesday, February 11, 2003 2:00 PM
Subject: France, Germany & Russia Defy US, Declaring War is Unjustified
Published on Tuesday, February 11, 2003 by the lndependent/UK
France, Germany and Russia Defy the US by Declaring That War is Unjustified
by John Lichfield in Paris and Anne Penketh
France, Germany and Russia begged Washington to give peace "every chance",
an unprecedented joint statement yesterday rejecting the American arguments
for early military intervention in Iraq.
The former Cold War adversaries agreed a joint declaration, which was read
out by President Jacques Chirac at the start of a press conference with
Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, in Paris.
"There is still an alternative to war, we are sure. The use of force must be
only a last resort. Russia, Germany and France are determined to give every
chance to the peaceful disarmament of Iraq," the statement said.
There is no precedent for a decision by two senior Nato allies to join
Russia, the former Cold War foe, in a joint statement defying the United
States. Russia and France are also permanent members of the UN Security
Council with the power of veto, while Germany currently holds temporary
President Putin, starting a two-day state visit to France, said that a
military intervention against Baghdad could have "serious consequences". M.
Chirac said "nothing justified" a war today. He said that France, with
and Germany, was making a "moral judgment" but not deliberately seeking to
damage the transatlantic alliance.
The statement by the three countries went on to repeat, almost word for
the approach adopted by France at the Security Council last week, calling on
the United Nations arms inspectors to be given more time and to be
Mr Putin said that he was ready to deploy Russian surveillance aircraft in
support of the inspection effort.
German ideas, which had built on the French initiative, and which were
floated at the weekend, for Iraq to be policed by United Nations troops and
placed under a total flight ban, were absent from the statement.
France has formally denied any connection with such a plan, and after it was
criticized by Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector, Germany appeared
yesterday to be quietly dropping the idea.
Peter Struck, the German Defense Minister, who had said on Sunday that he
hoped the initiative would receive a "positive response" when presented to
the UN Security Council, said yesterday the proposal was not yet ready. "The
planning of the governments in Paris and Berlin are not yet so far along
they can be presented in any great detail."
Mr Blix stressed that increasing the number of inspectors searching for
banned weapons was not the issue. "The principal problem is not the number
inspectors but rather the active co-operation of the Iraqi side, as we have
said many times," he said.
The joint statement appeared to leave the door open to a possible climbdown
by saying that any "substantial reinforcement" of the inspection regime
be taken "in liaison with the inspectors".
America and Britain made clear at the weekend they opposed the initiative
that calls for the tripling of UN inspectors from their current strength of
100. A Foreign Office spokesman played down the plan yesterday, saying that
the reinforcement of the inspectors could not be ruled out, "but the crucial
point is the Iraqi attitude".
John Chipman, the director of the London-based International Institute for
Strategic Studies, said: "This was a stillborn proposal because for it to
have any chance of becoming formalized it would require a UN resolution, and
the UK and US would veto it. So there was absolutely no prospect of it
the light of day."
He pointed out that the initiative floated at the weekend would, in effect,
rewrite UN resolution 1441 "by shifting the burden of proof back to the
Security Council and the UN inspectors rather than on Iraq. It would be the
inspectors' duty to discover rather than that of Iraq to reveal."
He also predicted problems in implementing the plan because the deployment
UN troops meant that "there would be the possibility of Iraq taking further
hostages. It would also place the inspectors at greater risk."
Significantly, the Russia-German-French declaration also called for a
ceasefire in the verbal hostilities between the United States and those
allies that refuse to accept its arguments in favor of an early war in Iraq.
Moscow, Paris and Berlin said that the "debate should be conducted in the
spirit of friendship which characterizes our relationship with the United
States and other countries".
© 2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd
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