Colin Powell...called on Paris and Berlin last night to study the UN resolution which they had backed. "What France has to do and what I think Germany has to do ... is read 1441 again."...Mr Rumsfeld, a leading US hawk, said it was not surprising if public opinion in Germany and France was opposed to war in Iraq if their governments were. Mr Fischer lashed back:"You have to make the case in a democracy. Excuse me, I'm not convinced."..."The problem now," one gloomy diplomat said last night, "is that things are getting personal."
The Guardian (UK)
Monday February 10, 2003
US fury at European peace plan
Transatlantic tensions burst into public slanging match as French and Germans
call for more time
Ian Black in Brussels, Richard Norton-Taylor in Munich and Julian Borger in
The Bush administration reacted with rage last night to a Franco-German
initiative to extend arms inspections in Iraq, portraying the plan as a
thinly disguised attempt to derail the US timetable for war.
With relations between the three nations plummeting, leaders on both sides of
the divide made no attempt to hide their growing contempt. Colin Powell, the
US secretary of state, called on Paris and Berlin last night to study the UN
resolution which they had backed. "What France has to do and what I think
Germany has to do ... is read 1441 again."
The Franco-German plan, revealed at the weekend, would triple the number of
UN weapons inspectors and back them up with surveillance flights. One
unconfirmed report said thousands of UN troops would be sent into Iraq to
support the inspectors.
The emergence of the plan just days before the US is expected to press the
case for military action at the UN was greeted with unalloyed anger by the
White House. To heighten the sense of irritation, Berlin said it would put
the joint plan before the security council on Friday, just hours after the
chief weapons inspector, Dr Hans Blix, is to present his crucial report.
Colin Powell swiftly dismissed the initiative: "I don't think the next step
should be 'Let's send in more inspectors to be stiffed' [deceived]. Tripling
the number of inspectors doesn't deal with the issue. This idea of more
inspectors, or no-fly zones, or whatever else may be in this proposal that is
being developed is a diversion, not a solution."
The Franco-German plan threatens to be a serious complication for Washington,
which wanted Friday's security council meeting to pose a single question: was
Saddam Hussein disarming or not?
US and British diplomats would then propose a second resolution that would
represent a mandate for military action. The unexpected third option muddies
To make matters worse, from Washington's position, Russia last night backed
an extension of time for the UN weapons inspectors. Speaking after a meeting
with German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, Russian President Vladimir Putin
said: "We are convinced that efforts for a peaceful resolution of the
situation regarding Iraq should be persistently continued."
US anger was compounded by the fact that the first it knew of the initiative
was in a report in the German news magazine Der Spiegel. France insisted the
plan was neither new nor secret, but rather an extrapolation of last week's
call by Dominique de Villepin, its foreign minister, for extra inspectors
backed by spy planes.
The transatlantic mood was ugly even before news of the plan emerged. On
Saturday Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, clashed publicly with
Joschka Fischer, Germany's Green foreign minister, when both men were
attending an international security conference in Munich.
Mr Rumsfeld, a leading US hawk, said it was not surprising if public opinion
in Germany and France was opposed to war in Iraq if their governments were.
Mr Fischer lashed back:"You have to make the case in a democracy. Excuse me,
I'm not convinced."
British sources quickly rejected the Franco-German move. "We don't buy this
idea," said a senior official. "It's the wrong approach. What we need is
cooperation on substance by the Iraqis."
The clash between America and what Mr Rumsfeld has disparagingly dubbed "old
Europe" will boil over today at a crucial Nato meeting which threatens the
future of the alliance. A very public split has opened over a US request to
prepare for the defence of Turkey against an Iraqi attack.
France, Germany and Belgium are all poised to block moves to send Patriot
missiles to Turkey by issuing formal objections before the decision takes
effect this morning. George Robertson, the Nato secretary-general, called the
bluff of the three last Thursday, hoping they would succumb to peer pressure
from Nato's 16 other members.
But the gamble seems to have failed and diplomats in Brussels said they were
resigned to a new crisis for the alliance.
Mr Rumsfeld rebuked the three for what he called "inexcusable" behaviour that
was "beyond comprehension".
"The problem now," one gloomy diplomat said last night, "is that things are