France to “face consequences” over behaviour in Iraq crisis, US says

US Secretary of State Colin Powell says France will feel the consequences of having stood against the American view in the Security Council over the Iraq crisis.

Speaking on a prominent US television program, Mr. Powell said the Franco-American relationship needed a thorough reevaluation, now that hostilities in Iraq had ended. Although the Foreign Secretary did not specify the exact nature of the consequences, Powell's spokesman had hinted earlier the US would try to hit France on the economic front.

France has been concerned with smoothing out the rough relations between the two countries since the start of the Iraq war, but efforts apparently have not yielded the desired effect. Mr. Powell's statement comes immediately following an agreement by the French side, to lift the civilian UN-sanctions on Iraq as soon as possible, which the US had previously advocated, widely seen as a conciliatory step toward the US.

Powell's open rebuke prompted a mix of surprise and outrage in Paris. Government spokesman, Jean-François Cope said that "these statements in no way reflect our current relationship with the United States." French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin underlined that his country had "acted in conformity with its convictions and its principles to defend international law," when it openly opposed military action in Iraq in the UN Security Council. France has been making various suggestions on possibilities for Iraq's future. In addition to easing the sanctios, French UN officials have has also suggested that the Oil-for-Food program be phased out gradually.



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