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[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ] I would bet France wants to share the spoils. No veto. Any bets? Cheers, Ken Hanly French MPs back Chirac all the way despite veto doubts From Charles Bremner in Paris THE French Parliament proclaimed unanimous support yesterday for President Chirac's resistance to US plans to wage war on Iraq. There were differences, however, on the wisdom of applying a French veto in the UN. Jean-Pierre Raffarin, the Prime Minister, and the leaders of all five parliamentary groups lavished praise on the courage of the French drive for "peace" in Iraq in a tightly controlled session that stifled signs of backbench dissent in M Chirac's ruling UMP party. France would refuse to support the proposed US-British resolution at the Security Council because that amounted to requesting authority for a war, M Raffarin said. It would be perceived by the world as "precipitous and illegitimate". M Chirac made the same point at a frosty lunchtime meeting at the Elysée Palace with José María Aznar, the Spanish Prime Minister, who backs the US-British push for military action. M Chirac overruled a request by the UMP for a vote in Parliament on the ground that foreign policy was the special domain of the President, under the rules of the Fifth Republic. Several MPs from the Gaullist wing of the UMP spoke, however, outside the chamber of their concern about a French veto, even if the US corralled a majority in favour of a war resolution. Pierre Lellouche, a former adviser to M Chirac who is one of the small band of Gaullist dissidents, said that a veto would amount to shooting the Americans in the back. The issue of a veto is becoming the main point of contention. The Socialist opposition is leading a left-wing chorus demanding that M Chirac must not back down, while the Government and its allies are avoiding talk of the veto and are keeping open the possibility of eventual French approval of war. Alain Juppé, who leads the UMP, was applauded for saying that the Government had wisely resisted pressure to "brandish its veto right at the wrong time". M Juppé, a former Prime Minister and M Chirac's closest lieutenant, is said to be warning the President against blocking a UN majority because of the damage that this would inflict on relations with Washington and on the Uinted Nations. In an implied warning in the debate, Edouard Balladur, a former Gaullist Prime Minister who heads the Foreign Relations Committee, urged M Chirac to consult very closely with Russia and China - both veto-wielding council members - before deciding how to vote over the UN resolution. However, François Hollande, the Socialist leader, told Parliament to heavy applause: "France must go right to the end with its refusal of this war . . . The public opinion of Europe and even in the US is with us . . . The veto is a way of saying No to a 'preventive war'. It is the way in which France will refuse legal cover to an illegitimate military intervention." Pierre Albertini, the parliamentary leader of the UDF, a centre-right party which was partially absorbed by the UMP last year, said: "France should not cultivate splendid isolation even if it has no doubt about the justice of its arguments." M Chirac's session with Señor Aznar amounted to a "dialogue of the deaf", diplomats said, since the pair simply restated their opposing views. M Chirac said afterwards: "We have a common goal of eliminating the arms of massive destruction in Iraq . . . but we do not share the same view on the means to attain this goal." Señor Aznar, depicted by the French media as Washington's emissary, said: "We feel that maximum pressure on the regime of Saddam Hussein is the best guarantee." Before leaving Madrid he said: "To give more time to a tyrant is simply to strengthen a tyrant. He will not use it to disarm, but rather to arm himself." The French Parliament's first debate on Iraq since October offered a show of cross-party unanimity against what France sees as an Anglo-Saxon rush to war. Speaker after speaker said that France had become the champion of international public opinion and was leading a front supported by the great majority of world governments. [ trans.gif of type image/gif removed by lists.casi.org.uk - attachments are not permitted on the CASI lists ] _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk