French President Jacques Chirac says there is no need for a second United Nations Security Council resolution on Iraq, and weapons inspections should be given time to work. But if a second resolution comes to a vote in the Security Council, some French lawmakers are urging their government to veto it.
The possibility of a French veto was raised by lawmakers during debates in both the French National Assembly and Senate. But Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin told the Senate the veto question need never be raised if the Security Council agrees to use peaceful means to disarm Iraq.
Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin told the National Assembly there is no need for force when there is a credible and effective alternative in ongoing weapons inspections. He said that a war against Iraq would be illegitimate and would divide the international community.
Mr. Raffarin also said the disagreement with the United States over the use of force should not hurt their strong relations. The United States has told France that a veto would be considered a very unfriendly act.
During the debates, the United States was criticized by some lawmakers as bellicose, extremist, and imperialist. The speakers also criticized Iraq, and insisted that it must be disarmed and must cooperate with the United Nations.
But there was no vote on the French government's policy. President Jacques Chirac enjoys an 80 percent approval rating, and his political opposition differs with him on Iraq largely in advocating a tougher line against the United States.