France demands international force for Iraq

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The Independent Online

France dismissed an effort by the US to get more countries to provide troops for Iraq yesterday, saying an international force should be dispatched only if it had a UN mandate.

At the end of a week in which over 23 people were killed by a bomb attack on the UN's Baghdad offices, France's Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, whose country has veto power in the Security Council, said the Allies must switch from "a logic of occupation to a logic of sovereignty", telling Le Monde: "We can't make do with adjusting or enlarging the current plan. The right thing would be to bring into play a true international force under the mandate of the UN.."

His sentiments were echoed by UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, who warned the Security Council would be unlikely to support a new UN resolution to send more troops to Iraq unless the US shared responsibilities. After a meeting with Jack Straw, the UK's Foreign Secretary, he said the council could consider an international force if it involved "not just burden-sharing but also sharing decisions and responsibility".

Mr Straw, an advocate of greater UN involvement, said despite different starting points on the matter, a "strong consensus" was possible.