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France on sanctions

BBC News Online: January 13, 1999 Published at 10:47 GMT

Lift Iraq sanctions - France
France says it wants the United Nations to address Iraq's demands for a
lifting of trade sanctions and an end to weapons inspections. 

Instead, France is proposing Iraqi oil sales are monitored, to ensure
the revenue is not spent on weapons. 

The move comes amid suggestions from Baghdad that it may seek a dialogue
to end the current impasse. 

Details of the plan have yet to be announced, but France has already had
informal discussions, behind closed doors, with the other four permanent
Security Council members the United States, Russia, Britain and China. 

The current crisis has led to almost daily military action by US forces
against Iraqi military aircraft and ground sites as they enforce no-fly
zones in the north and south of the country. 

Diplomats say France will present the proposal to the other 10 members
of the UN Security Council on Wednesday. 

Talks possible 

The BBC United Nations Correspondent, Rob Watson, says it is a
significant step. Although France's ideas for breaking the deadlock with
Iraq have been aired before, this is the first time they've been
presented at the UN, albeit in a very informal manner. 

Meanwhile, there are suggestions in Baghdad that the authorities may be
prepared to enter into talks to ease the current tensions. 

After a cabinet meeting chaired by Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi news agency
reported that dialogue could be the way forward - a BBC correspondent in
Baghdad, John McIntyre, says the moves are aimed at Arab leaders who are
meeting later this month and are not intended to signal giving any gound
to the US or Britain. 

But the remarks are in contrast to earlier statements, bitterly blaming
neighbouring Arab countries for last month's airstrikes. 

End of the road for Unscom? 

One casualty of France's proposal would be the intrusive inspections of
the UN Special Commission (Unscom) in charge of dismantling Iraq's
weapons of mass destruction, which would be replaced by some kind of
ongoing monitoring system. 

But there are major hurdles to the acceptance of the French proposals -
Iraq is still demanding the unconditional lifting of the oil embargo,
and the United States and Britain are likely to oppose what might be
seen as a reward for Baghdad's failure to honour UN

However, our correspondent says the French move does represent the first
step in what looks like being a very long battle at the UN over what to
do next about Iraq.



Harriet Griffin
Research Scientist
Environmental Change Unit
University of Oxford
5 South Parks Road
Oxford OX1 3UB
United Kingdom

Phone: ++ 44 (0)1865 281210
Fax:  ++ 44 (0) 1865 281202

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