- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 23, 2003

The United States promised yesterday that should it go to war with Iraq, it would hold the nation's oil "in trust" for the Iraqi people and not exploit it for Washington's "own purpose."
"We are studying different models. But the one thing I can assure you of is that it will be held in trust for the Iraqi people, to benefit the Iraqi people," Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told reporters from regional U.S. newspapers.
Mr. Powell's remarks addressed fears in the Muslim world that Washington's primary goal was to take control of Iraqi oilfields.
France and Germany, meanwhile, stepped up their opposition to military action, blocking a NATO decision in Brussels on support measures if armed conflict erupts.
Mr. Powell said that after Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime is brought down, the United States and the coalition it will lead "will follow religiously international law, which gives clear guidance with respect to the responsibilities of an occupying power."
The secretary also said that "there is no desire for the United States armed forces to remain in charge or to run a country for any length of time beyond that which is necessary to make sure that there is an appropriate form of government to take over from the initial military occupation."
Both Mr. Powell and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld responded to the most recent anti-war rhetoric from France and Germany, which have said that the U.N. inspection process currently under way in Iraq should continue.
"It's not clear to me how long they want it to continue or whether they are serious about bringing it to a conclusion at some time," Mr. Powell said.
Mr. Rumsfeld said that France and Germany, as powerful as they are, do not represent the "New Europe," which includes countries from the former Soviet bloc that are now on track to join NATO.
"You are thinking of Europe as Germany and France. I don't. I think that's old Europe," the defense secretary told a separate group of reporters at the Foreign Press Center.
"If you look at the entire NATO Europe today, the center of gravity is shifting to the east. And there are a lot of new members," Mr. Rumsfeld said.
As France and Germany celebrated the 40th anniversary of their bilateral friendship treaty that made them key powers in the European Union, leaders of both nations declared that they were of the same mind on opposing military action in Iraq.
"We agree completely to harmonize our positions as closely as possible to find a peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis," German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said after a joint meeting of the two governments at the Elysee Palace in Paris.
French President Jacques Chirac said that only the United Nations Security Council has the legitimacy to approve an attack on Iraq. France is the council's rotating president this month and Germany takes over in February.
Mr. Chirac declined to say if Paris would vote the same way as Berlin.
The two European nations, which are among Washington's most trusted allies, also blocked a NATO decision yesterday on whether to prepare supporting measures if war breaks out.
The United States formally asked the alliance last week to consider providing military assistance, mainly to protect Turkey, the only ally in the Muslim world.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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