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[casi] News, 19-26/03/03 (6)

News, 19-26/03/03 (6)


*  Iraq - Morgan urges ethnic harmony
*  UK Prime Minister's Address to the Nation
*  Bush and Blair's differing designs for a secure world
*  Trust Tony's judgment


*  Canada watches war from sidelines
*  Listening Devices Are Found in EU Offices
*  Blair and Chirac talk as war begins
*  Iraq neighbours told not to endanger stability
*  Schröder wins parliamentary backing over German troops
*  World gov'ts snub US request to expel Iraqi diplomats     
*  Bulgarian Prime Minister addresses the country about Iraq
*  Brussels warns it will withdraw its crews
*  Nigerian Islamic clerics urge dollar boycott in favour of euro over Iraq


BBC, 20th March

First Minister Rhodri Morgan has urged Wales to maintain racial harmony in
the face of the military conflict in Iraq.

He told an emergency debate in Cardiff Bay on Wednesday that the nation
faced "difficult times" as UK and US troops mobilised near the Iraqi border
ahead of action.

"Military intervention in Iraq is not an attack on Muslims. We must make
every effort to maintain the bridges between the many ethnic groups in
Wales," he said

His statement came just hours after 16 of the 34 Welsh Labour MPs signalled
opposition to the conflict by backing an anti-war amendment in the Commons -
among 139 Labour MPs who voted against Tony Blair.

Mr Morgan also told the chamber that hospitals in Wales were involved in
contingency plans for possibly treating casualties of conflict.

But he refused to be drawn on whether he thought military assaults should go
ahead, saying a re-run of Westminster's debate was not needed.

The assembly's views, he said, were "totally irrelevant" because only the UK
Parliament could take a decision on war.

But what was relevant was Wales' public services.

He said hospitals were ready to "respond to the circumstances of war or any
revenge terrorist attacks ... including chemical or biological attacks".

He added: "The NHS in Wales is part of the [UK's] plans to deal with war
casualties and will play its part in the reconstruction of Iraq.

"Airports and hospitals near those airports will be used if there are
casualties requiring repatriation of injured servicemen and women."

The first minister may have slapped down calls to give an opinion on whether
war was appropriate, but Conservative assembly leader Nick Bourne had no
such qualms.

"The stance taken on Iraq is moral, against a man who gassed the Kurds, who
has killed his own people, who has sent people into exile," Mr Bourne said.

"There's no question about it - we're in a fight of right against wrong now
and we should back our troops."

Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones said he wanted the assembly to express
its views through a vote, which was not granted.

He asked: "What hope now for a safer world, post-Iraq?

"The United States and her allies will be seen as imperialist aggressors."

Liberal Democrat assembly leader Mike German questioned whether President
Bush's aim of "regime change" was legal.

"That is why resolution 1441 was valuable, because it had unanimous United
Nations backing," he said.

"We will now never know whether a few more months could have led to a
significant reduction in Saddam's capabilities."

Scoop, 21st March

On Tuesday night I gave the order for British forces to take part in
military action in Iraq.

Tonight, British servicemen and women are engaged from air, land and sea.
Their mission: to remove Saddam Hussein from power, and disarm Iraq of its
weapons of mass destruction.

I know this course of action has produced deep divisions of opinion in our
country. But I know also the British people will now be united in sending
our armed forces our thoughts and prayers. They are the finest in the world
and their families and all of Britain can have great pride in them.

The threat to Britain today is not that of my father's generation. War
between the big powers is unlikely. Europe is at peace. The Cold War already
a memory.

But this new world faces a new threat: of disorder and chaos born either of
brutal states like Iraq, armed with weapons of mass destruction; or of
extreme terrorist groups. Both hate our way of life, our freedom, our

My fear, deeply held, based in part on the intelligence that I see, is that
these threats come together and deliver catastrophe to our country and
world. These tyrannical states do not care for the sanctity of human life.
The terrorists delight in destroying it.

Some say if we act, we become a target. The truth is, all nations are
targets. Bali was never in the front line of action against terrorism.
America didn't attack Al Qaida. They attacked America.

Britain has never been a nation to hide at the back. But even if we were, it
wouldn't avail us.

Should terrorists obtain these weapons now being manufactured and traded
round the world, the carnage they could inflict to our economies, our
security, to world peace, would be beyond our most vivid imagination.

My judgement, as Prime Minister, is that this threat is real, growing and of
an entirely different nature to any conventional threat to our security that
Britain has faced before.

For 12 years, the world tried to disarm Saddam; after his wars in which
hundreds of thousands died. UN weapons inspectors say vast amounts of
chemical and biological poisons, such as anthrax, VX nerve agent, and
mustard gas remain unaccounted for in Iraq.

So our choice is clear: back down and leave Saddam hugely strengthened; or
proceed to disarm him by force. Retreat might give us a moment of respite
but years of repentance at our weakness would I believe follow.

It is true Saddam is not the only threat. But it is true also - as we
British know - that the best way to deal with future threats peacefully, is
to deal with present threats with resolve.

Removing Saddam will be a blessing to the Iraqi people. Four million Iraqis
are in exile. 60% of the population dependent on food aid. Thousands of
children die every year through malnutrition and disease. Hundreds of
thousands have been driven from their homes or murdered.

I hope the Iraqi people hear this message. We are with you. Our enemy is not
you, but your barbarous rulers.

Our commitment to the post-Saddam humanitarian effort will be total. We
shall help Iraq move towards democracy. And put the money from Iraqi oil in
a UN trust fund so that it benefits Iraq and no-one else.

Neither should Iraq be our only concern. President Bush and I have committed
ourselves to peace in the Middle East based on a secure state of Israel and
a viable Palestinian state. We will strive to see it done.

But these challenges and others that confront us - poverty, the environment,
the ravages of disease - require a world of order and stability. Dictators
like Saddam, terrorist groups like Al Qaida threaten the very existence of
such a world.

That is why I have asked our troops to go into action tonight. As so often
before, on the courage and determination of British men and women, serving
our country, the fate of many nations rests.

Thank you.

by Philip Stephens
Financial Times, 21st March

Tony Blair persuades me. George W. Bush frightens me. Even as the British
join American forces on the drive into Iraq, it is as if the prime minister
and the president are fighting two different wars. One of these I can make
sense of, even support. It wants to build something resembling a new
international order. The other is founded on a delusion. Operation "shock
and awe" is probably as vivid a demonstration of military supremacy as we
will ever witness. But it mistakes invincibility for invulnerability.

Wars, of course, are always full of confusions. Death and destruction wash
away the straight lines that otherwise serve as the parameters for quiet
debate. Blood and tears superimpose uncertain emotions on intelligent
argument. Anyway, why should we worry now about who had right on their side
during the bitter arguments at the United Nations over resolution 1441? Who
cares any longer whether Mr Blair defamed France's Jacques Chirac? Battle
has been joined. What matters is that victory is swift and, in so far as war
ever can be, relatively bloodless.

For the duration of the conflict Mr Bush and Mr Blair can claim a common
purpose. Deposing Saddam Hussein and destroying Iraq's weapons of mass
destruction are clear enough aims. Even the most vehement critics of the war
can hardly weep for such a dangerous tyrant. It is beyond that where
transatlantic purposes diverge.

Motives matter in war. They define what happens on what the strategists call
the Day After; they shape the buildings that eventually emerge from the
rubble. The postwar architecture will never be more important than after the
fall of Baghdad. The attack on Iraq is the first "preventative" war, an
anticipation of, rather than a response to aggression. Other such conflicts
may follow. That makes the terms of the peace - beyond Iraq as much as
within it - as decisive as the war itself.

We know what Mr Blair wants. He began to sketch his design for a new
international security system in the immediate aftermath of September 11
2001. He added substance and texture to the outline when he gave the speech
of his political life during this week's debate on the war in the House of
Commons. Never again can this prime minister be caricatured as a politician
of convenience rather than conviction.

Mr Blair's starting point is that the attacks on New York and Washington did
indeed mark a profound change in the world's strategic geography. Chaos and
weapons proliferation have replaced communism as the principal threat to
international security. The new enemies are tyrannical regimes seeking
weapons of mass destruction and extremist groups for whom indiscriminate
terror is an end in itself. Put the two together and, in Mr Blair's words,
the danger is indeed "real and present". September 11, he remarked, had
changed the psychology of America: "It should have changed the psychology of
the world."

Mr Blair is similarly robust in his belief that we cannot live any longer
under the rules of the old international order. Those rules said governments
could do what they liked behind their own borders. But just as Slobodan
Milosovic could not be allowed to get away with ethnic cleansing in Kosovo,
so would-be aggressors can no longer expect to be left alone to develop
nuclear and biological weapons.

So far, so good. There is nothing Mr Bush would quarrel with in the above
analysis - and very little, incidentally, that should disquiet Mr Chirac.
But then the transatlantic divide opens. For all the rancour between
Europeans during the past few weeks and months, Mr Blair's speech was a plea
for multilateralism. The Atlantic relationship, he insisted, must be
repaired - on the basis of a European partnership with, rather than
subservience to, the US. The UN, too, has to be put back together - with the
governance and reconstruction of Iraq its first task. And, more pressing
than anything else, once the war is over the US has to recognise that there
is no priority above a resolve to settle the conflict between Israel and the

I was sure I detected a hint of self-reproach when Mr Blair thought aloud
about the deal that Europe might have put on the table last September. A
united continent could have offered Washington the assurance that it would
back tough action against Iraq and, more generally, against weapons
proliferation. In return it could have demanded of the US engagement at the
UN and a recognition of the need to restart the Middle East peace process.

To Mr Blair's mind, of course, that bargain must still be struck. Staunch
European backing in return for US multilateralism is the only solid
foundation for geostrategic security. Mr Blair has grasped something that
the hawks in the US administration have never understood. Military power
alone will never be enough to guarantee America's security. Without the
friendship, respect and support of its allies, it will ever be vulnerable.
Likewise, for all its occasional posturing, Europe still needs America's
security guarantee.

But Mr Blair's was the not the only fine speech at Westminster this week.
The other came from Robin Cook, the former foreign secretary and leader of
the Commons, after his resignation from the cabinet in opposition to the
war. A stronger politician outside the government than within it - and a
brilliant orator - Mr Cook spoke of the US government as it is rather than
as Europeans would like it to be.

A US administration visibly dominated by vice-president Richard Cheney and
Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, scorns the multilateralism at the
core of Mr Blair's strategic vision. Sure, the White House has said it will
go back to the UN once Baghdad has fallen. But, as one senior administration
official told me recently, that is because it will need access to the Iraqi
oil revenues now tied up in UN escrow accounts. All the rest of it is
sentimental guff.

The shredding of international support for America's stance over recent
months has represented the biggest foreign policy defeat since the Vietnam
war. Worse still, Messrs Cheney and Rumsfeld scarcely care. And they write
the president's scripts. America, as Mr Bush said in a speech to the
Westpoint military academy as long ago as last summer, intends henceforth to
keep "military strengths beyond challenge". It will seek out its enemies and
act against them before threats materialise. And it will do so without
international restraint. We are back, in other words, to the Hobbesian world
in which right is measured only by might. That's what frightens me.,3604,916233,00.html

by Bill Clinton
The Guardian, 22nd March

Last October, when I spoke at the Labour conference in Blackpool, I
supported the efforts of President Bush and Prime Minister Blair to renew
efforts to eliminate Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, and to
try to accomplish this through the UN.

In November, the UN security council adopted unanimously resolution 1441,
giving Saddam a "final opportunity" to disarm, after 12 years of defying UN
resolutions requiring him to do so. The resolution made it clear that
continued sanctions were not sufficient and that continued defiance would
lead to serious consequences.

The credit for 1441 belongs in large measure to Blair, who saw it as a
chance to disarm Saddam in a way that strengthened the UN and preserved the
Atlantic alliance. Unfortunately, the consensus behind 1441 has unravelled.
Saddam has destroyed some missiles but beyond that he has done only what he
thinks is necessary to keep the UN divided on the use of force. The really
important issues relating to chemical and biological weapons remain

In the face of the foot dragging, hawks in America have been pushing for an
immediate attack on Iraq. Some of them want regime change for reasons other
than disarmament, and, therefore, they have discredited the inspection
process from the beginning; they did not want it to succeed. Because
military action probably will require only a few days, they believe the
world community will quickly unite on rebuilding Iraq as soon as Saddam is

On the other side, France, Germany and Russia are adamantly opposed to the
use of force or imposing any ultimatum on Saddam as long as the inspectors
are working. They believe that, at least as long as the inspectors are
there, Iraq will not use or give away its chemical and biological stocks,
and therefore, no matter how unhelpful Saddam is, he does not pose a threat
sufficient to justify invasion. After 150,000 US forces were deployed to the
Gulf, they concluded the US was not willing to give inspections a chance
anyway. The problem with their position is that only the threat of force
from the US and the UK got inspectors back into Iraq in the first place.
Without a credible threat of force, Saddam will not disarm.

Once again, Blair stepped into the breach, with a last-ditch proposal to
restore unity to the UN and disarm Saddam without military action. He
secured US support for a new UN resolution that would require Saddam to meet
dead lines, within a reasonable time, in four important areas, including
accounting for his biological and chemical weapons and allowing Iraqi
scientists to leave the country for interviews. Under the proposed
resolution, failure to comply with this deadline would justify the use of
force to depose Saddam.

Russia and France opposed this resolution and said they would veto it,
because inspections are proceeding, weapons are being destroyed and there is
therefore no need for a force ultimatum. Essentially they have decided Iraq
presents no threat even if it never disarms, at least as long as inspectors
are there.

The veto threat did not help the diplomacy. It's too bad, because if a
majority of the security council had adopted the Blair approach, Saddam
would have had no room for further evasion and he still might have disarmed
without invasion and bloodshed. Now, it appears that force will be used to
disarm and depose him.

A s Blair has said, in war there will be civilian was well as military
casualties. There is, too, as both Britain and America agree, some risk of
Saddam using or transferring his weapons to terrorists. There is as well the
possibility that more angry young Muslims can be recruited to terrorism. But
if we leave Iraq with chemical and biological weapons, after 12 years of
defiance, there is a considerable risk that one day these weapons will fall
into the wrong hands and put many more lives at risk than will be lost in
overthrowing Saddam.

I wish that Russia and France had supported Blair's resolution. Then, Hans
Blix and his inspectors would have been given more time and supprt for their
work. But that's not where we are. Blair is in a position not of his own
making, because Iraq and other nations were unwilling to follow the logic of

In the post-cold war world, America and Britain have been in tough positions
before: in 1998, when others wanted to lift sanctions on Iraq and we said
no; in 1999 when we went into Kosovo to stop ethnic cleansing. In each case,
there were voices of dissent. But the British-American partnership and the
progress of the world were preserved. Now in another difficult spot, Prime
Minister Blair will have to do what he believes to be right. I trust him to
do that and hope that Labor MPs and the British people will too.

Bill Clinton was the 42nd president of the United States


by Stephen Thorne
Canada Press, 19th March

OTTAWA (CP) - Canada watched from the sidelines and most federal politicians
had no comment Wednesday evening as the United States launched the opening
stages of a war on Iraq without United Nations approval.

U.S. President George W. Bush went on national TV at 10:15 p.m. to announce
that a U.S. led coalition had begun the war on Iraqi President Saddam
Hussein. A spokesman for Jean Chretien said there would be no comment from
the prime minister statement until Thursday. But federal NDP Leader Jack
Layton spoke out immediately, calling on Chretien to form a multi-party
delegation to go to Washington and urge senior U.S. leaders to end the war
"as quickly as is absolutely possible."

The Prime Minister's Office said Chretien would comment Thursday morning at
a Francophonie event with Boutros Boutros-Ghali, a former UN secretary

A spokesman in Stephen Harper's office said the Canadian Alliance Leader was
preparing a "major speech" on Iraq and wouldn't comment until morning. Tory
Leader Joe Clark's office said he would not comment.

"Our first thoughts are for the Iraqi children and families with missiles
raining down upon them," Layton said. "This is the most horrific thing

He called on Canadians to participate in peace protests across the country
Saturday to help build "a worldwide climate of opinion" to bring about peace
and reconstruction.

"We can't give up our opposition to this war now," said Layton. "We have no
choice now but to protest. We must speak out."

After months of speculation, Chretien declared Monday that Canada would not
join a war against Saddam's regime without a new resolution from the UN
Security Council.

The decision raised questions about Canada's naval role in the Persian Gulf
as well as the contributions of 31 Canadian military personnel serving on
exchange with U.S. and British forces in the region. There are also 38
soldiers guarding Canadian military planes operating in the region.

It also raised concerns about Canada-U.S. relations, not so much because
Canada isn't contributing militarily - it is sending up to 2,800 troops in
August to fight terrorism in Afghanistan - but more because it never backed
the U.S. position on Iraq from the beginning.

It is the first time Canada has stayed out of a major U.S.-led conflict
since the Vietnam War.

Adding to the concern, comments from Liberal MPs - the latest from a cabinet
minister - continued to draw fire as anti-American. Natural Resources
Minister Herb Dhaliwal said Tuesday that Bush let Americans and the world
down by not acting like a statesman in the crisis.

Chretien had played a delicate game of fence-sitting during months of
diplomatic debate over the issue of whether war with Iraq was justified and
whether it was authorized by the United Nations.

At various times he insisted Canada would not participate without UN
approval. But he also said UN Security Council Resolution 1441, passed Nov.
8, authorized force with its threat of "serious consequences" if Iraq did
not satisfy inspectors that it had destroyed weapons of mass destruction.

It became more doubtful that Canada would participate to any extent when the
Liberals announced in February they'd send peacekeepers to Kabul, a move
that will strain the military.

On Feb. 28 in Mexico City, Chretien took a dramatic departure from the U.S.
position, saying nothing in the UN mandate authorized Bush's stated desire
to overthrow the Iraqi regime.

"If it is a changing of regime, it's not what is 1441," he said. "And if you
start changing regimes, where do you stop?

"This is the problem, who is next? Give me the list, the priority list."

While some countries supported the U.S. and Britain in calling for an
immediate war, and others joined the French, Germans and Russians in
opposing it, Chretien attempted to broker a compromise at the United

Under Canada's plan, the UN would have set benchmarks and imposed a March 28
deadline for Iraqi compliance with Security Council disarmament demands.

But it failed as did one proposed by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who
was facing overwhelming opposition to war from voters and his own caucus.

Ultimately, Chretien said that was the undoing of Resolution 1441, and any
chance Canada would participate in a war on Iraq.

"We're disappointed," Chretien told the House of Commons.

"I'm still of the view that given some more weeks, disarmament would have
been achieved."

At last count Wednesday, there were 49 Canadians still in Iraq, including
six peace activists. Three of them were in northern Iraq, the rest in
Baghdad. Among them was Sacha Trudeau, a son of former prime minister Pierre
Trudeau. There were also a dozen UN workers who were to leave the country
Wednesday or Thursday.

Trudeau, a filmmaker and freelance journalist who, like the other Canadians,
has refused to leave, planned to follow an Iraqi family in Baghdad through
the assault.

When the last Persian Gulf War erupted on Jan. 16, 1991, Canada had warships
and fighter bombers in the region and was committed to war when the first
American bombs fell.

Today, Canada has three warships in the Gulf assigned to the war against
terrorism - escorting allied ships and stopping suspect vessels to search
for terrorists and contraband materials.

There are also five Canadian military planes - three Hercules transports and
two Aurora patrol planes - deployed in the war against terrorism.

Defence Minister John McCallum had hinted the ships might be diverted to the
Iraq war and, indeed, over several weeks their area of operations crept

Chretien acknowledged Tuesday that the ships would be escorting U.S. and
British ships heading to the war on Iraq.

"They are doing what they have done all along; all those ships that are
there, they were escorted there," he said.

Canadian ships are there "to maintain navigation in that area of the world,"
said Chretien.

McCallum acknowledged that, should an ally come under attack, Canadian naval
forces wouldn't stop to ask whether the vessel was headed to the war on
terrorism or the war on Iraq before defending it.

The 31 Canadians on exchange, primarily deployed with U.S. or British navy
and air force units, could be involved even though Canada will be a
non-combatant. McCallum said they would not be involved in direct combat.

Another 38 soldiers are deployed to guard the five Canadian planes operating
in the region and a small number of soldiers are based at the region's U.S.
command headquarters in Qatar.

Former UN ambassador Stephen Lewis said he is worried about the fate of the
Iraqi people now the war has started.

"I believe that we are launched into a full-scale calamity and that the
world will pay a dreadful price down the world in the polarization of
religious beliefs and the toll it will take on children and vulnerable
families in Iraq," he said in Edmonton.

He also backed the prime minister's stand on keeping Canada out of the

"It was absolutely the right decision in every way. I don't think our
international integrity would have ever recovered if we had joined this

"Just because we share this border with (the U.S.) we shouldn't be seen as a
willing lackey in everything that they do because sometimes they are wrong.
And this time, they are dead wrong."

NO URL (sent to list)

Associated Press, 19th March

BRUSSELS, Belgium: Electronic bugging devices were found in offices used by
several countries, including France and Germany, in a building where a
European Union summit will open Thursday, EU officials said.

The EU is investigating the bugging in a headquarters building but does not
yet know who was behind it, EU spokesman Dominique-George Marro said

EU diplomats said listening devices were found in offices used by France,
Germany, Spain, Italy, Britain and Austria. They were discovered Feb. 28
during regular security sweeps by EU security services.

The French newspaper Le Figaro broke the story Wednesday, saying Belgian
police identified the bugs as American. The report did not say why officials
believe the devices are American, and that report could not be confirmed

"At this point we cannot say who planted these bugs," said Cristina Gallach,
a spokeswoman for Javier Solana, the EU's high representative for foreign
and security policy.

The American mission to the EU has "received no communication about the
investigation from the EU," a spokesman for the U.S. mission said on
condition of anonymity.

Marro said the EU "found anomalies in the telephone lines" during the
security sweeps. The bugs had not been announced because investigators
thought they had a better chance of catching the culprits if the find was
kept secret.

Marro said only a small number of lines had been affected in the sprawling
glass-and-marble Justus Lipsius building in central Brussels, but declined
to say the type or how many were found.

In Paris, a spokesman for President Jacques Chirac's UMP party said he was
"surprised, very astonished and profoundly shocked" by the discovery.

"Everything concerning illegal devices, everything concerning the
surveillance of friendly countries ... is a pure and real scandal," Francois
Baroin said.

Georg Possanner, a spokesman for the Austrian delegation, was quoted by the
Austrian Press Agency as saying the bugging was a "totally professional

Leaders of the 15 EU nations are scheduled to meet Thursday and Friday at
the building for their annual spring summit, during which they also are
expected to discuss the Iraqi crisis.

The building houses the secretariat of the EU council of ministers. The EU's
regular meetings of ministers are held there. The building also houses
Solana's offices.

"There is an urgent interest in clearing this up," German Interior Ministry
spokesman Rainer Lingenthal said. "We still hope to find those responsible."

No devices were found on the phones in Solana's office or at the EU's
military wing, housed in the same building, Gallach said.

Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, whose country holds the EU's
rotating presidency, said he was informed of the bugs Wednesday morning.

"The first thing I can do is to condemn this act," he said. "Once we get the
results, obviously you will be informed ... we will find out soon and take
the appropriate measures."

Earlier this month, London's Observer newspaper reported the United States
was spying on other U.N. Security Council delegations. The Observer said a
U.S. National Security Agency memo showed the United States was monitoring
the phones and e-mail of U.N. delegates in New York.

The White House declined comment at the time and a U.N. spokesman said no
Security Council member had confirmed the report.

Two years ago, the European Parliament investigated reports that a U.S.-led
global spy network dubbed "Echelon" allegedly snooped on Europe's business
community. U.S. officials have not acknowledged that such a network exists
and have said American agencies do not engage in industrial espionage.

The European Parliament warned EU nations at the time to step up security
measures to protect sensitive government and business communications.

BBC, 20th March

As war begins in Iraq, Tony Blair is set to meet French President Jacques
Chirac for the first time since the French threatened to veto a UN
resolution setting a deadline for Saddam Hussein to disarm.

The prime minister's spokesman said Mr Blair would attend the European
Union's summit later this week and will make his views clear to Mr Chirac if
needs be.

EU leaders will discuss Iraq at a dinner in Brussels on Thursday evening and
the spokesman said there was no point pretending there was not a fundamental
disagreement between France and Britain.

There is no use pretending that there are not serious differences of view
between us and the French government

Paris is still reeling from Mr Blair's repeated claims that the French are
to blame for the failure to secure a diplomatic solution to the Iraq crisis.

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said he was "shocked and
saddened" at the suggestion and called on his UK counterpart Jack Straw to
reject the claims in the strongest terms.

During a heated House of Commons debate on support for the imminent war on
Iraq on Tuesday, Mr Blair argued that if President Chirac had not threatened
to veto a new UN resolution setting a deadline for Saddam to disarm, he may
have backed down without the use of force.

He described the French stance as misguided and profoundly dangerous,
stressing that it had ultimately benefited the Iraqi dictator.

"The tragedy is that had such a resolution been issued, he might just have
complied," said Mr Blair.

He insisted: "There is resentment of US predominance. There is fear of US
unilateralism...I know all of this.

"But the way to deal with it is not rivalry but partnership," he told MPs.

But those comments appear to have upset the French.

One diplomatic source in France said: "We fully understand the internal
pressure which is being put on the British government, but these comments
are not worthy of a country which is a friend and a European partner.

"This presentation of the facts does not match the reality and does not fool

Mr Villepin added: "The French authorities were shocked and saddened by the
remarks made by members of the British government."

Mr Chirac, the strongest anti-war voice in the West, provoked anger from Mr
Straw and other British ministers when he announced last week he would veto
any resolution in the UN Security Council that gave the green light to
military action in Iraq.

The prime minister's spokesman said: "There is no use pretending that there
are not serious differences of view between us and the French government in
respect of resolution 1441.

"Clearly the prime minister's view is that had the international community
stuck by 1441 and sent a strong message of unity to Saddam, that pressure
could have borne dividends.

"We could have achieved the disarmament that we all want to see and achieved
it peacefully."

However, the spokesman said the last telephone conversation between the two
leaders had been good natured

Welsh Secretary Peter Hain stressed that France and Britain had much in
common, despite their differences over Iraq.

He told BBC Radio 4's World At One programme: "We need to encourage the
French government and President Chirac in particular to seek a role of
partnership with the United States, not a position of conflict or tension.
And we are in a position to help him do that."

by Gareth Jones and Marie-Louise Moller
Financial Times, 20th March

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union leaders have warned Iraq's neighbours
not to endanger stability in the region after Turkey's parliament voted to
enable Turkish troops to enter northern Iraq during a U.S.-led war.

Acknowledging major differences remained over the military action, the 15 EU
leaders focused on what unites them, pledging to address humanitarian needs
and work for regional peace.

"We call on all countries of the region to refrain from actions that could
lead to further instability," they said on Thursday in a joint statement
issued at a summit amid the most serious foreign policy crisis in EU

Diplomats said the message was clearly aimed at EU candidate Turkey, which
refused to allow U.S. troops to invade Iraq from its soil but cleared the
way for thousands of its own troops to move in, raising the risk of clashes
with Kurds in the autonomous north of Iraq.

"Northern Iraq is the wild card in all of this that would turn a two-sided
affair into a four way affray involving Kurds, Turks, Iraqis and
Americans...and cause a flood of migrants. Things could go very wrong," a
senior EU diplomat said.

Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, chairing the summit, admitted the EU
remained split as U.S. and British forces went into action in Iraq.

"There are differences of opinion...quite serious disagreements in fact. We
can't make them vanish nor can we overcome them at this time," he told a
news conference.

At France's insistence, the statement omitted any mention of responsibility
for the war or whether Iraq had failed to take the opportunity to disarm
peacefully -- a clause Britain had sought to justify its participation in
the assault.

The leaders stressed their commitment to strengthening transatlantic
relations and to the fundamental role of the United Nations, even though
Washington and London went to war without the backing of the U.N. Security

Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou earlier told the European
Parliament that U.S. EU relations were going through "a significant crisis"
over Iraq.

The EU leaders seemed keen to start healing bitter rifts among themselves on
the Iraq conflict, after Britain, Spain and Italy backed the U.S. drive to
war against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, while France and Germany led the
anti-war camp.

But in a sign of raw personal relations, diplomats said there were no plans
for Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac, the two
main antagonists in the Iraq split, to meet privately during the curtailed

The two men shook hands after the joint statement was agreed, diplomats
said, but the mood was one of minimal courtesy rather than reconciliation.

France, the loudest anti-war voice in the West, said earlier it was deeply
concerned and forecast serious consequences, no matter how long the war
lasted. Germany voiced dismay and said everything must be done to avert a
humanitarian disaster.

"We should be ashamed of ourselves that we have not risen to the occasion
and failed to reach a common position," Luxembourg Prime Minister
Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters.

Simitis said the EU could face a new refugee problem as a result of the
conflict, as it did in the 1999 Kosovo war.

European Commission President Romano Prodi said the EU had information that
refugees were already on the move in northern Iraq.

Prodi deplored the EU's divisions and urged member states to speak with one
voice and do more for their own defence to be less dependent on Washington.

"Whatever the outcome of the war, there can be no denying this is a bad time
for the (EU) Common Foreign and Security Policy, for the European Union as a
whole, for the authority of the U.N., for NATO and for transatlantic
relations," he said.

"It is not in our interest to continue relying on others when it comes to
defending our values militarily."

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said European leaders could have
avoided damaging disunity if they had been more realistic about U.S.

"I think that with a more realistic policy, we could have avoided this
division since the United States had a determination against which it was
not possible to oppose a different will," he told reporters.

The Commission's aid chief Poul Nielson said the EU aimed to get
humanitarian help to Iraq as soon as possible and appealed to member states
and the European Parliament for approval of 100 million euros in emergency
extra funding.

by Hugh Williamson in Berlin
Financial Times, 21st March

Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's government yesterday won an emergency
parliamentary vote concerning the involvement of German troops in Nato
missions in Turkey yesterday.

The opposition liberal Free Democrats argued in its motion that the
parliament should pass a resolution on the deployment of German troops in
Awacs surveillance aircraft used to patrol Turkish airspace.

The government argued that the deployments, which started earlier this year,
are part of Germany's defence obligations to Nato and do not require a
separate parliamentary resolution. Several Green legislators yesterday
criticised the deployment as representing German military involvement in the
US-led war.

However, some legislators said that if Turkish troops came into conflict
with Kurds in northern Iraq it would be more difficult for the government to
argue that the Awacs deployments were purely defensive.

The interior ministry ordered tighter security at facilities belong to the
US, Britain and Israel, as well as at airports and on national borders.

Mr Schröder bitterly attacked the US for making the "wrong decision" in
going to war with Iraq. "There was another way to disarm [Saddam Hussein]"
he said, warning that "thousands would suffer" because of Washington's
"false decision". Speaking in a televised address, he accused Washington of
ignoring the opinion of "the majority of the [UN] Security Council and of
most people in the world". He said his views were shared by France, Russia
"and many other leading world powers", arguing that these views "must be
spoken out clearly".

Joschka Fischer, foreign minister, accused the US of misleading the UN by
treating regime change in Baghdad as its ultimate priority, not Iraq's

"It has become clear in recent days that the intentions of the US were
always more than building pressure on Iraq to disarm. But [regime change]
was never on the Security Council agenda," he said in a parliamentary

Despite his harsh tone, Mr Schröder said it was also time "to look to the
future". Under the auspices of the UN, Germany would provide humanitarian
help to refugees and support reconstruction efforts, he said.

‹ Ukraine is sending a military unit to Kuwait that will help US forces
clean up if Iraq uses chemical weapons, reports Tom Warner in Kiev. Despite
its opposition to the US attack, parliament approved a proposal by President
Leonid Kuchma to dispatch the 550-member unit. The US has offered to pick up
the costs.

The gesture is aimed at patching up US relations after a spat last year over
a leaked recording in which Mr Kuchma appeared to approve a sale of advanced
mobile radars to Iraq.

Jordan Times, 22nd March
PARIS (AFP) ‹ A growing number of countries on Friday turned down a request
from the United States to expel Iraqi diplomats, prompting Washington to
shrug off their resistance as US-led forces pushed into Iraq for a second

Strong antiwar governments such as those in France, Germany, and Russia
rejected the request to close Iraq's embassies and expel its diplomats until
new authorities were in power in Baghdad.

The Netherlands, Poland and Portugal, which the United States has identified
as members of a "coalition of the willing" backing the war in Iraq, also
turned down the request.

Washington said on Thursday it was asking governments worldwide to sever
ties with the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, shut down Iraq's
embassies and freeze its assets until new authorities were in power in

But France, Germany and Russia swiftly dismissed Washington's request.

"France believes this request is a matter of sovereignty. At the moment
there is no reason to respond positively," said foreign ministry spokesman
Francois Rivasseau.

Germany has "no current plans" to comply with the US request, a foreign
ministry spokesman said on Friday, although Berlin this week ordered the
expulsion of four Iraqi diplomats for activities "incompatible with their
diplomatic status" ‹ a euphemism for spying.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, meanwhile, said on Friday that Moscow
would refuse any US demands to expel Iraqi diplomats, but that it had yet to
receive an official request.

Malaysia also rejected the US demands on Friday while Thailand's foreign
ministry, yet to receive a request, questioned whether such actions would be

"How can assets of the embassy of Iraq be seized? It's not legal, we have
relations," said a foreign ministry spokesman.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell on Friday dismissed the resistance to
Washington's request.

"That is their choice," Powell told reporters when asked about the refusal
of at least seven nations to accede to the US call.

"We believe that, as we watch this regime come to an end, it would be
appropriate to let all of our friends know that it was time to cease the
activity of the Iraqi missions in their countries," he said.

Several countries that have broadly supported the US-led campaign to wage
war against Iraq held firm in the face of Washington's requests.

Portugal, a strong backer of US policy on Iraq, said on Friday that it would
not expel Iraqi diplomats as requested by Washington.

"We do not intend to close Iraq's embassy nor are there any motives to expel
the Iraqi diplomats," Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso said at a
meeting of EU leaders in Brussels.

The Netherlands, which also backs the United States over Iraq, rejected the
request as groundless, while Poland rejected it on Thursday as

"Embassies represent not only the leaders of these countries but also the
nations, and Iraqi nationals also live in Poland," said Polish President
Aleksander Kwasniewski.

Algeria, Kenya and Sweden also turned down the US demands while Jordan said
it had yet to receive a formal request.

In Australia, however, all Iraqi diplomats were told to pack their bags and
leave the country before the end of the week.

Iraq has a diplomatic presence in 63 countries, via 56 embassies, six
special interests sections and one consulate, and is also represented at the
United Nations.

A number of countries, including France, that took part in the 1990-1991
Gulf War have since had no official diplomatic ties with Iraq.

But despite prolonged UN economic sanctions against Iraq, many governments
have resumed normal relations with Baghdad over the past decade, typically
handled via special interests sections.


RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT Vol. 6, No. 12, 21 March 2003

 In a televised speech on 19 March that was posted on the government's
official website (, Prime Minister Simeon
Saxecoburggotski iterated his government's support for U.S.-led efforts to
disarm Iraq. He also explained once again parliament's decision to authorize
Bulgaria's participation in the so-called coalition of the willing.
Saxecoburggotski said Bulgaria has used all diplomatic channels to find a
diplomatic solution to the crisis, but that those efforts have failed. "The
conclusion is that Iraq has refused to disarm in response to the will of the
international community and itself opted for the serious consequences of its
own behavior," Saxecoburggotski said. "The actions undertaken by Bulgaria
are in pursuance of the political decision of the National Assembly on 7
February 2003.... That decision clearly stated the parameters of our support
in pursuance of [UN Security Council Resolution] 1441: transit, temporary
deployment of aircraft, and the sending of Bulgarian [anti-nuclear,
-biological, and -chemical] troops on a defensive and humanitarian mission
to a country neighboring Iraq." (Ulrich Buechsenschuetz)

address to the parliament published on his official website
(, President Georgi Parvanov said on 20 March that
he considers the war on Iraq unacceptable, as it is weakening the United
Nations because it was started without a UN Security Council resolution.
Parvanov said in the future it will be difficult for Bulgaria to defend
national interests within the framework of the UN, the EU, and NATO. He also
queried whether the decision to participate in the U.S.-led anti-Iraq
coalition was legitimized by the 7 February parliamentary decision. "We have
been part of a [process of exerting] forceful pressure, but this does not
necessarily mean that we will also become part of the military, forceful
solution," Parvanov said, adding that Bulgaria must make clear that it
cannot share political responsibility for a war that is not legitimized by
the UN. (Ulrich Buechsenschuetz),3523,1311047-6098-0,00.html

Business Day (South Africa), 24th March

BRUSSELS: Following similar German warnings, Belgian Foreign Minister Louis
Michel said yesterday Belgium too would withdraw its crew members from North
Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) surveillance planes patrolling Turkish
airspace if Turkey moves its troops into Iraq.

Michel also warned that any Turkish military incursions into northern Iraq
could damage its attempts to join the European Union (EU).

Turkey denied media reports on Saturday that about 1000 Turkish commandos
had crossed into northern Iraq.

"If the Turks enter into Kurdistan (in northern Iraq), they will have a
serious problem in their candidature to the EU. The Nato mission should only
be used for defensive measures. If they enter Iraq, we are in a totally new
situation and we will let Nato know of our position against this."

In Berlin on Saturday, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and Defence
Minister Peter Struck issued a similar threat to pull out of the Awacs crews
now working out of the Konya air base in central Turkey.

Nato members Belgium, Germany and France have opposed military action in
Iraq and tried to block deployment of the Nato mission as well as patriot
missiles to Turkey last month.

Alliance officials have reassured its member states that its Awacs flights
over eastern Turkey were defensive and would not aid any Turkish push into

The 19-nation alliance has four surveillance planes in Turkey, helping
defend the country in case Iraqi forces launch retaliatory strikes against

Nato Secretary General Lord Robertson said he received "assurances to Nato"
from the Turkish government that "no forces have ... entered Iraq".

Nato sent a fourth Awacs from Geilenkirchen, Germany, on Wednesday, to boost
patrols of the Turkish-Iraqi border area.

Alliance officials said nonstop patrols were started this week to monitor
the skies for any possible air attack on the only Nato ally to border Iraq.

Interactive Investor Trading, 24th March

KANO, Nigeria (AFX) - Islamic clerics in northern Nigeria called on Muslim
traders to boycott the US dollar in favour of the euro in protest against
the US-led war on Iraq.

The call was made at a televised session of the Council of Ulema, or Islamic
scholars, at Aliyu Bin Abi-Talib mosque in the northern city of Kano, with
chairman Umar Ibrahim Kabo calling the attack on Iraq "an attack on every

"The European countries have maintained their strong opposition to the
aggression against Iraq and have refused to be fooled by America into
supporting her unjustifiable crime," he added.

"We should therefore encourage transactions with the euro and stop
patronising the American dollar. We call on all Muslims of this country to
boycott all American goods to protest this aggression against Iraq."

The Hausa people of Northern Nigeria dominate the unofficial money-changing
market in much of Nigeria, and normally deal in dollars, euros and sterling.

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