Desk: SUBS 2 grafs for 5th graf, Burns, on record, disputes French account; INSERTS 17th
Desk: SUBS 2 grafs for 5th graf, Burns, on record, disputes French account; INSERTS 17th graf, Christopher winds up day in Bonn; inserts new grafs 20-22 with Deutch comment
PARIS (AP) _ Secretary of State Warren Christopher won limited support Thursday from France in patrolling no-fly zones over Iraq.
Starting Monday, French crews will resume patrols in the north and broaden the range of their patrols in the south, though not into the wider area in which the United States and Britain are flying.
``The United States welcomes the continuation of France’s participation as an important measure of the coalition,″ State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said after Christopher held back-to-back meetings with President Jacques Chirac and Foreign Minister Herve de Charette.
According to a French foreign ministry statement, Christopher also ``confirmed the end of the American operation `Desert Strike’ in Iraq″ _ the two rounds of U.S. cruise missile attacks on Iraqi military targets.
But Burns disputed this assertion. He said Christopher had given no such assurance to the French, who objected to the missile strikes this week.
``Secretary Christopher did not make such a pledge,″ the U.S. official said.
``American policy and American action will be based very much on what Saddam Hussein does. The United States does retain any option, of course, in the future to counter the efforts of Saddam Hussein,″ Burns said.
``The United States intends to enforce the new zone,″ Christopher declared after meeting with de Charette.
French air crews not only have refused to venture into the extended Iraqi no-fly zone in the south, but also have not flown the full expanse of the old zone, according to a French spokesman _ an apparent protest of U.S. policy. The agreement to resume flights over the entire old zone represented a compromise in the French view.
``I hope the French will go forward with the operation,″ Christopher said.
Burns said whatever the French position, the United States would pursue its current strategy. ``If we have to do it alone, or alone with the British, we will do it,″ he said.
France has questioned the legal basis for the American missile strikes against Iraqi military targets. While disapproving of Saddam’s blitz into northern Iraq’s Kurdish region last weekend, France contends Iraq did not violate the no-fly zone policed with the United States and Britain in the north.
Also, the French are concerned the U.S. missile assault could undercut Iraq’s sovereignty, further destabilizing the volatile Persian Gulf region.
France also has opposed the decision by the United Nations to suspend for six months an arrangement for Iraq to sell up to $2 billion worth of oil, the first such sales since the Gulf War.
France was Christopher’s key target on a trip initially designed to commemorate a landmark post-World War II speech offering U.S. friendship to a defeated Germany and to compare notes on elections due to be held in Bosnia in nine days.
During a stop in London, British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind reiterated his country’s strong support for the U.S. action in Iraq and said that whatever aggression Saddam undertakes ``he has to wind up paying more of a price than he thinks he has gained.″
He wound up the day in Bonn, where he will meet on Friday with Chancellor Helmut Kohl.
U.S. and British pilots Wednesday began patrolling the newly enlarged exclusion zone, which now bars Iraqi aircraft from an area extending from the Kuwaiti and Saudi Arabian borders to the outskirts of Baghdad _ roughly half the country.
In Washington, Pentagon officials said that Iraqi forces showed no sign of challenging U.S. aircraft patrolling the southern half of the country today. U.S. intelligence said Iraqi troops in the Kurdish region to the north appeared to be backing off.
And CIA Director John Deutch said that while Saddam has no easy or immediate way to respond to U.S. missile attacks against his country, he is likely to continue to be a destabilizing influence in the region.
The first question for the CIA director after a speech at Georgetown University Thursday came from a student: ``I just can’t help wonder why we haven’t killed Saddam Hussein yet?″
First, it would be illegal under U.S. law to assassinate a foreigner, Deutch said, adding: ``And I’m not sure that I believe that’s the most effective way to solve this problem.″
While there is no single condition Saddam must meet to end the U.S. attacks, Christopher said ``we expect him to get out of there and let the Kurds pursue their existence, their lives and pattern of living in the future.″
And yet, Christopher said a total withdrawal was beyond reasonable U.S. expectations. ``We are not trying to monitor whether every single person that came in with him goes out,″ he said. In fact, Christopher said, ``We expect some of his assets will remain there. It’s probably not possible to re-create the full status quo.″