France to Veto Iraq Resolution, Reaffirms Chirac

French President Jacques Chirac reaffirmed on Sunday that his country would veto the US-British-Spanish-drafted resolution which seeks UN authorization of use of force to disarm Iraq.

The UN weapons inspection in Iraq should continue, and France would pursue a diplomatic solution to the Iraqi crisis, Chirac said during an interview with US television networks CNN and CBS broadcast on Monday.

"France is not pacifist. We are not anti-American either. We are not just going to use our veto to nag and annoy the United States. But we just feel that there is another option, another way, another more normal way, a less dramatic way than war," he said.

"We have to go through that path. And we should pursue it until we've come a dead end, but that isn't the case," the president said.

On the anti-French sentiment in the United States over France's refusal to side with the United States in the Iraq crisis, Chirac said he was disappointed about that.

"I think that the relationship between the French and Americans... is a relationship of friendship. But if I see my friend or somebody I dearly love, going down the wrong path then I owe it to him to warn him be careful," he said.

Chirac said he did not believe there was a majority in the 15-member UN Security Council in favor of a resolution authoring the use of force against Iraq.

Chirac also said his country is willing to compromise on the issue of how long the UN arms inspectors in Iraq should last but that this would depend on what the arms inspectors asked for and should be approved by them.

The president said the inspections designed to rid Iraq of any and all weapons of mass destruction should continue as long as the inspectors said there was cooperation and progress.

"One month, two months, three months, I do not know, but as long as the inspectors tell that, there is no reason for us to change," Chirac added.



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