FRANCE TO ACTUALLY HELP?
France said Monday it will work with other nations to cancel billions of dollars in Iraqi debt and suggested that Saddam Hussein’s capture would open the way toward mending relations with Washington.
Rather odd, since the effort to oust Saddam was what exposed the rift to begin with.
Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin of France, one of the most persuasive and persistent critics of the U.S. decision to wage war in Iraq said he hopes the capture will allow the international community to “regain its unity.”
France’s commitment toward reducing the outstanding debt came a day before U.S. special envoy James A. Baker was to arrive in Paris, one of five European capitals he will visit this week as part of an effort to encourage such moves.
It appears US pressure has worked:
The establishment of a sovereign government will allow international solidarity to fully express itself,” French President Jacques Chirac said, according to spokeswoman Catherine Colonna. “We now need to look to the future.”
Mending relations with Washington and persuading the Bush administration to hand decision-making power over to the Iraqis could also bolster France’s ability to influence Iraq’s future — and its chances of participating in the lucrative reconstruction of Iraq.
France, in the most concrete gesture to Washington, will join other members of the Paris Club of creditor nations to look for ways of restructuring or forgiving huge debts Iraq owes them, de Villepin said.
“France could envisage the cancellation of appropriate debts,” he said at a news conference after meeting a delegation of visiting Iraqi ministers. He did not provide any figures.
One wonders if we didn’t make it clear behind the scenes that the debts would be unilaterally cancelled anyway if they didn’t do it voluntarily.