Associated Press –
France may face consequences for opposing the U.S.-led war against Iraq, Britain’s foreign secretary said Thursday, echoing similar warnings from Washington.
Jack Straw did not detail what the consequences would be, but said the country’s stand on Iraq had been “simply inexplicable” to most people in the United States.
Straw also said the war could have been avoided if France and Russia had joined Britain and the United States in giving Saddam Hussein “a really tough ultimatum” on getting rid of weapons of mass destruction.
“Decisions have consequences and some of the approaches which were taken by some of our continental colleagues were simply inexplicable to most people in the U.S.,” the British Broadcasting Corp. quoted Straw as saying.
“My criticism of my colleagues in France and elsewhere in Europe…is that they all willed the end, which was the disarmament of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction and his compliance with the U.N., but they failed to will the means,” he told a BBC phone-in show.
Britain’s Foreign Office said Straw met with his French and German counterparts Dominique de Villepin and Joschka Fischer for a private dinner in Brussels Thursday.
A spokeswoman said the meeting had been called at “fairly short notice to discuss current issues.” She declined to elaborate.
France opposed the war with Iraq and threatened to veto a U.N. resolution sanctioning the war sought by the United States and Britain. France, along with Russia, took the position that there should be more U.N. inspections before considering the use of force.
Secretary of State Colin Powell has also warned that France faces consequences for its stand on Iraq. The United States is considering excluding France from some NATO decisions as well as other U.S. meetings with allies.
While White House officials are reviewing relations with France with an eye to punishing the nation, Germany, which also opposed the war, is not targeted for punitive measures, a senior U.S. official told The Associated Press.
Straw said he was optimistic relations could be repaired between Washington and Berlin, but could not say the same about France.
“So far as France is concerned, it is much more complicated,” the BBC quoted him as saying. He said France wanted to set itself up as a “separate pole” and warned such a stance could cause “great instability.”