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France, Germany: US Resolution on Iraq 'Unjustified' - 2003-02-24

The leaders of France and Germany have dismissed a move by the United States, Britain and Spain to push for a new resolution in the United Nations Security Council that would authorize military action to force Iraq to disarm. France, Germany and Russia are submitting their own proposal to the Council that they say would boost the efficiency of U.N. weapons inspections in Iraq.

French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder discussed the Iraq crisis over dinner at one of Berlin's oldest restaurants, ironically named "The Last Appeal." When they emerged to meet reporters, Mr. Chirac reiterated his position that the U.S.-sponsored resolution is unjustified.

"We don't see its usefulness, and, therefore, we will not be in favor of it," Mr. Chirac said.

The French president said he believes that most of the 15 Security Council members are also against a new resolution.

And Mr. Schroeder chimed in, saying Germany's position is exactly the same as France's.

In what seemed to be a new anti-war initiative, the two leaders said they have been joined by Russia in submitting a step-by-step disarmament plan for Iraq that sets out time-lines to dismantle and destroy Baghdad's chemical, biological, nuclear and missile programs. The proposal urges more time for weapons inspectors to do their job.

But when asked how long the Iraqis are to be given to rid themselves of their arsenal, Mr. Chirac said there is no deadline. "Well, it's not up to us to say. That was the responsibility which was given to the inspectors," he said.

The two leaders also reiterated their position that the military option should only be used as a last resort.

In Mr. Schroeder's words, what distinguishes good old Europe, a reference to U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's remark labeling France and Germany as "old Europe", is its deeply embedded consciousness of what war really means.

Mr. Chirac agreed, saying war is always the worst of solutions.