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Wed, May 21, 2003 - Page 12 News List

US envoy to France warns of renewed trade tensions


Trade relations between the US and France, which survived a major diplomatic row over Iraq, would be threatened by a new clash in the UN Security Council, the US ambassador to Paris said in remarks to be published yesterday.

Paris and Washington's differences over the Iraq war were unlikely "to lead to massive or lasting boycotts, as long as we can find a solution to the question of UN sanctions on Iraq," Ambassador Howard Leach told the French newspaper Le Figaro.

"I have been telling the French business leaders I meet that contracts would be honored, that they should not fear economic retribution and that the climate will improve, provided there is not another clash in the UN Security Council," Leach said.

But in the event of a renewed disagreement over a US-drafted resolution on postwar Iraq, Leach said: "I would indeed be concerned about the state of our relations, including in economic matters."

"That is why it is so important that our two countries succeed in working together on the international stage," he said.

Backed by Britain and Spain, the US has submitted a motion to the Security Council which would give the occupying forces control of Iraq's oil revenues and a key role in setting up a new government, with the UN confined mainly to humanitarian work.

French President Jacques Chirac said Paris would back the US resolution if it was modified to include more explicit references to the UN's role.

A UN Security Council diplomat said the US intended to submit a revised and final draft of its resolution for Iraq on Monday.

Leach said he had been taken aback by "the French government's unfriendly actions at the United Nations" in the run-up to the war on Iraq.

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