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France: US Cannot Act Unilaterally in Solving World's Problems - 2002-02-08

French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin has cautioned the United States not to view world problems only through the prism of the war on terrorism and to work more closely with other nations instead of acting unilaterally. Mr. Jospin's criticism of U.S. foreign policy is the latest signal of concern by European leaders at what they see as Washington's drive to broaden the fight against terrorists beyond Afghanistan.

Ever since President Bush lashed out at what he called "an axis of evil" comprising Iran, Iraq and North Korea, America's European allies have been jittery about an expansion of the war on terrorism to those and other countries.

On Wednesday, French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine accused the United States of pursuing what he called a "simplistic" policy that reduces all of the world's problems to the struggle against terrorism. Mr. Vedrine specifically hit out at Washington's Middle East policy, saying Europe cannot go along with U-S support for what he described as Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's "repressive policies" and U.S. isolation of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

On Friday, Mr. Vedrine's boss, Prime Minister Jospin urged the Bush Administration not to become fixated on the war against terrorists.

Mr. Jospin says you cannot reduce all of the world's problems to the single dimension of the fight against terrorism, whatever its pressing necessity. Nor, he says, can you rely only on military means to solve them.

Speaking at a European Union conference in Paris on international money laundering, the French leader urged the United States to work together with other countries to build a safer and fairer world.

He says he hopes the United States does not give in to the strong temptation to act unilaterally but, instead, rejoins other nations in attacking problems together. Otherwise, he says, the new equilibrium the world is seeking will be more difficult to attain.

Although France has been the most vociferous European critic of U.S. policy since Mr. Bush's State of the Union address, other governments are equally worried about what they see as a U.S. desire for more and broader military action.

Germany, for instance, has warned Washington against trying to use the war on terrorism to settle old scores with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Even Britain, Washington's closest ally, has cautioned against a strike on Iraq unless a clear connection is found between Baghdad and the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States

The 15-member European Union says it opposes any action against Iran, adding that Europe intends to cooperate in every possible way with Teheran as a way of supporting Iranian moderates.