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France, India Call on Iraq to Cooperate with UN

The French and Indian prime ministers have called on Iraq to cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors, and disarm to avoid war. French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin is in India on a three-day visit that focuses on strengthening bilateral cooperation and trade ties.

The French prime minister told reporters in New Delhi that the Iraq crisis is "not a game, and it's not over." The French leader was responding to Thursday's remarks by President Bush that the "game is over" for Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Iraq is under threat of a possible attack from the United States and its allies, who accuse Baghdad of hiding weapons of mass destruction.

The French prime minister called on Iraq to move from passive to active cooperation with U.N. weapons inspectors. He reiterated his country's position that war can be avoided.

There are other solutions, alternatives to war, and we would like the process that was engaged with Resolution 1441 should continue to its end.

Mr. Raffarin spoke after meeting with Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. Both countries say they share similar views on Iraq, opposing a unilateral attack by the United States, but supporting efforts to disarm Iraq peacefully.

Mr. Vajpayee says U.N. weapons inspectors should be encouraged to step up their work in Iraq. "I don't think the game is over," he said. "Evidence which has been produced by America has to be carefully examined. Inspectors should be encouraged to continue with their work."

Both countries say they are satisfied with progress in their bilateral relations, but have expressed a desire to improve trade ties. India and France have traditionally had a friendly relationship.

The French prime minister is accompanied by a large business delegation. He said India and France will establish several new partnerships in the area of high technology exchanges, and step up cooperation in education and research. France is also trying to clinch a deal to sell to India Airbus planes and a variety of defense equipment.