- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 22, 2003

PARIS, Jan. 22 (UPI) — French President Jacques Chirac said Wednesday that France and

Germany shared common views on the Iraqi crisis — but deftly avoided answering whether the two countries might vote against a possible U.N. resolution to go to war on Baghdad.

"Regarding this crisis, Germany and France have a common judgment, which is

essentially founded on two ideas," Chirac said at news conference with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder at the Elysee presidential palace. "The first, is that all decisions must be taken by the (U.N.) Security Council alone — and must

be taken after they have heard the report" of U.N. weapons inspectors.

The inspectors teams leaders are to report to the Security Council on Monday.

"And the second reality," Chirac added, "is that for us war is always a sign of defeat. And always the worst of all solutions."

Asked whether he had anything to add, Schroeder said, "No."

Reports this week suggest French and German leaders have not ruled out a "no" vote on going to war Baghdad, if the matter is taken up at the Security Council.

Germany takes over from France the rotating council presidency, as a non-permanent member. But France, as one of the five permanent members, can veto any resolution.

The two leaders spoke during the start of a two-day celebration of the Elysee Treaty of 1963, aimed to end centuries of hostilities between the two countries.

Both leaders also urged Israelis and Palestinians to return to the negotiating table and Chirac deemed the situation in the Middle East "a real preoccupation."

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