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News, 19-26/03/03 (6) THE FAITHFUL FRIEND * 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 UNWILLING INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY * 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 war THE FAITHFUL FRIEND http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/2865013.stm * IRAQ - MORGAN URGES ETHNIC HARMONY 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." http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/WO0303/S00306.htm * UK PRIME MINISTER'S ADDRESS TO THE NATION 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 democracy. 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. http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c =StoryFT&cid=1045511944616&p=1012571727162 * BUSH AND BLAIR'S DIFFERING DESIGNS FOR A SECURE WORLD 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 Palestinians. 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. http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,916233,00.html * TRUST TONY'S JUDGMENT 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 unresolved. 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 deposed. 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 1441. 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 UNWILLING INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2003/03/19/46595-cp.html * CANADA WATCHES WAR FROM SIDELINES 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 general. 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 imaginable." 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 Nations. 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 north. 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 conflict. "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 war." "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) * LISTENING DEVICES ARE FOUND IN EU OFFICES 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 Wednesday. 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 immediately. "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 work." 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. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2863909.stm * BLAIR AND CHIRAC TALK AS WAR BEGINS 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 anyone." 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." http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/WireFeed/WireFeed&c =WireFeed&cid=1046713678170&p=1014232938216 * IRAQ NEIGHBOURS TOLD NOT TO ENDANGER STABILITY 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 history. 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 Council. 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 summit. 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. intentions. "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. http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c =StoryFT&cid=1045511945492&p=1012571727166 * SCHRÖDER WINS PARLIAMENTARY BACKING OVER GERMAN TROOPS 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 disarmament. "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 speech. 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. http://www.jordantimes.com/Sat/news/news11.htm * WORLD GOV'TS SNUB US REQUEST TO EXPEL IRAQI DIPLOMATS 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 day. 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 Baghdad. 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 legal. "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 "unjustified". "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. NO URL * BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER ADDRESSES THE COUNTRY ABOUT IRAQ 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 (http://www.government.bg), 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) BULGARIAN PRESIDENT SAYS HE CANNOT ACCEPT WAR ON IRAQ. In a televised address to the parliament published on his official website (http://www.president.bg), 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) http://www.bday.co.za/bday/content/direct/1,3523,1311047-6098-0,00.html * BRUSSELS WARNS IT WILL WITHDRAW ITS CREWS 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 Iraq. The 19-nation alliance has four surveillance planes in Turkey, helping defend the country in case Iraqi forces launch retaliatory strikes against it. 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. Sapa-AFP http://www.iii.co.uk/shares/?type=news&articleid=4610101&action=article * NIGERIAN ISLAMIC CLERICS URGE DOLLAR BOYCOTT IN FAVOUR OF EURO OVER IRAQ WAR 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 Muslim". "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. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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