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French Foreign Minister Accuses Bush Administration of Isolationism - 2001-08-28

France's foreign minister has accused the Bush administration of isolationism, and he called for a more humane approach toward integrating the global economy. The remarks by French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine reflect concerns elsewhere in Europe about recent American initiatives.

Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine told French diplomats meeting in Paris that France is determined to develop a more humane and controlled approach toward economic globalization, despite what he called American unilateralism.

Mr. Vedrine's remarks strike a chord in France, where many oppose U.S. policy on issues ranging from global warming and the use of genetically modified agricultural products, to a proposed U.S. missile defense system.

On Monday, French President Jacques Chirac said American plans to build a missile defense shield did not amount to what he called a defense panacea. He said anti-missile defense should be discussed not only between the Americans and Russians but among all the nuclear powers.

Many French are also opposed to genetically modified crops, which are more widely accepted in the United States. French farmer and anti-globalization fighter Jose Bove and his supporters have destroyed hundreds of test crops at French research stations, in highly publicized rampages. Members of France's coalition government, particularly the Green Party, have also raised skepticism about the crops.

And France, like many European countries, has expressed dismay at the Bush administration's decision to oppose the Kyoto global warming protocol.

Fears of unbridled globalization have topped French news in recent weeks. The French Communist Party has called for a new leftist policy toward globalization, following an anti-globalization campaign by the French grassroots group, Attac. Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin has formed a team of advisors on economic regulation, and is reportedly working on a book about the subject.

Fears of unregulated world capitalism have been voiced across France's political spectrum. France's conservative President and Socialist Prime Minister are considered likely rivals in next year's presidential elections. But while Mr. Jospin and President Chirac have bickered about an array of domestic issues, they have both expressed sympathy for anti-globalization concerns.