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French Foreign Minister Urges UN to Take Over Iraq Peacekeeping - 2003-07-24

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin says the killing of Saddam Hussein's sons Uday and Qusay could provoke revenge attacks and has urged that the United Nations take over peacekeeping in Iraq.

The French foreign minister acknowledged that the death of Saddam Hussein's two sons on Tuesday marks the end of an era, but he said members of Saddam's Baath Party could seek revenge, and resistance to coalition forces could intensify.

Mr. de Villepin also told France Inter radio the situation in Iraq, where the infrastructure is devastated, can only improve with a Security Council resolution handing over responsibility for peacekeeping and reconstruction to the United Nations.

He argued against sending more foreign troops to Iraq in the present situation, saying, "Patching up a system on the basis of what exists now does not seem the best way to ensure Iraq's security." France strongly opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

President Bush has called for military and financial aid from other countries, but says the coalition that ousted Saddam Hussein must remain in charge. India, Russia, and Germany have backed France in saying they want a new U.N. mandate before they will provide support for the effort to rebuild Iraq. The United States has about 150,000 troops in Iraq. U.S. forces have been suffering casualties daily since the end of the war. The U.S. military says three American soldiers were killed in northern Iraq Thursday when their convoy was hit by rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire.