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The Independent: France delays UN vote over sanctions on Iraq

The following article appears in today's Independent.  I am writing in
response to make two points:

(i) the delay is not a "surprise" if one has been speaking to sources
other than the British ambassador; and

(ii) it is not clear that France is trying to "weaken" the proposal by
requesting clarification and seeking to reduce the extent to which
non-military sanctions are conditional upon GoI compliance.

Letters can be sent to:

Colin Rowat

Coordinator, Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq

393 King's College            
Cambridge CB2 1ST                       tel: +44 (0)468 056 984
England                                 fax: +44 (0)870 063 4984


The Independent

France delays UN vote over sanctions on Iraq 

By Rupert Cornwell 

16 December 1999

As the beef row simmered on, Britain yesterday struggled to keep a lid on
new frustrations with France, after Paris unexpectedly forced yet another
delay on a crucial Security Council vote which could send back UN arms
inspectors and lift sanctions against Iraq. 

The surprise came late on Tuesday in New York, when Britain, in the
Council chair, scheduled a vote on the resolution. After weeks of hard
diplomatic graft, to find a compromise over the degree of Iraqi compliance
with the UN required to trigger a suspension of sanctions, Britain
believed it had finally won safe passage for the resolution. 

But the French ambassador called for a further delay to come up with a new
formulation that could win Iraqi approval. 

Britain's public reaction has been one of patience: "We don't want to
close a window if there's the slightest possibility of maximum consensus,"
Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the UK ambassador to the UN, said, referring to the
possibility of persuading France to vote "Yes" and increase the
resolution's authority in Iraqi eyes. 

Privately, Britain believes France is playing for time, caught between
incurring the wrath of the US by trying to weaken the proposed resolution
further, and aligning itself with the Anglo-Americans and risking
lucrative contracts in Iraq, once sanctions are lifted. 

The French now want to put the controversy on the agenda of Friday's
foreign ministers' meeting of the G-8 group of leading countries,
including Russia and the US. But this is opposed by Britain. It would mean
that the Council could not vote before Friday, probably Monday. After that
comes the Christmas break, followed by entry of a new set of non-permanent
members on the Council. 

"That means in practice we'd have to start again from scratch," one
British diplomat said. "We don't want another Anglo-French spat, and we
want to get as broad support as possible. But obviously, this can't go on
for ever." 

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