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France, Germany Renew Call for Diplomatic Solution on Iraq - 2003-01-15


French and German leaders meeting in Paris Tuesday night said they were in complete agreement on how to handle the Iraqi crisis. Germany succeeds France as head of the U.N. Security Council next month, and both continue to call for a diplomatic solution.

Following a dinner meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder were asked how they would respond if the United States declared war on Iraq.

Mr. Schroeder said he remains committed to not participating in a possible war against Iraq, a pledge he made a few months ago during his campaign for reelection. But President Chirac did not answer the question. France is keeping its options open, but maintains a war on Baghdad would be the least desirable solution to the crisis.

Both leaders declined to comment on President George W. Bush's remarks earlier Tuesday that time was running out on Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

President Chirac says France had a clear position on Iraq, and he had no other comment to make. France backs a second U.N. resolution regarding a possible war on Iraq, a position Mr. Schroeder now supports.

Many Europeans are against any military strikes on Baghdad, even if the United Nations leads the campaign. And in recent remarks, former French President Valery Giscard D'Estaing said European countries now sitting on the U.N. Security Council should press a European point of view.

On European Union's enlargement, Mr. Chirac said the two leaders had come to a compromise on ways to elect a future president of the European Council and head of the European Commission. The two positions are part of larger efforts to overhaul the European Union to accommodate 10 new members. Next week, France and Germany, the driving force behind European integration, will stage an elaborate celebration marking 40 years of diplomatic cooperation.

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