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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

French Foreign Minister Addresses Press

Aired February 14, 2003 - 13:09   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: At the United Nations, the France Foreign Minister, Dominique De Villepin is now speaking with reporters.
DOMINIQUE DE VILLEPIN, FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER: We want from the Iraqis full compliance with their obligation. Because the goal of the Security Council, and we should never forget it, is disarmament of Iraq.

That's why France has proposed to reinforce the inspections, try to give to the chief inspectors all the means they need to ensure the conduct of the inspections. And we consider that we should keep, altogether, the pressure on Iraq. And that's why we propose to have a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) clause on the 14th of March at the ministerial level. We are all involved (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to try to solve peacefully this crisis. And this is today the most important task we have.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... that Iraq is in material breach now, today?

DE VILLEPIN: We are in the framework of Resolution 1441. And under the Resolution 1441, on the basis of the report of the inspectors it is to the council to decide whether we are or not in material breach.

QUESTION: Mr. Minister, will France introduce a resolution to carry out the (OFF-MIKE)

DE VILLEPIN: I've said it very clearly this morning. We think we are in the framework of the Resolution 1441. It is the times of the inspections. We can improve in this framework the possibility of reinforcement of the inspection. We don't need, at this stage, a second resolution. Of course, if there is a failure, if the inspectors come back and tell us we cannot work anymore on the ground, then we will have to consider a new meeting of the Security Council, a new resolution. We should examine all the options, including the use of force, but that's not the time in which we are today.

QUESTION: You have been applauded at the end of your speech, what is not very common here. What's your reaction for that?

DE VILLEPIN: The only reaction is the feeling we are all working for something important. What is at stake here is war and peace. And our responsibility, our common responsibility of everyone in the Security Council is involved, and we are wiling to try to give peace a chance. QUESTION: Will you continue your opposition to war all the way through to a possible veto of a U.S.-sponsored resolution in the next two weeks? And do you believe U.S. troops must stay in the region to keep that pressure on Iraq, even if it means months?

DE VILLEPIN: We believe the pressure that altogether we've put on Iraq is giving today results. We said very clearly what is the French position, and it is a detailed position. We've said first step, first stage, we should try to do all our best with the inspectors. And then, of course, if it didn't work, then we should consider a second option.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... will France then commit more forces in order to add to the pressure or will it let the United States (OFF-MIKE) pressure alone?

DE VILLEPIN: I think, and you heard the report of Mr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei, the pressure is strong. The pressure is strong. We are having result. We should stick together in order to get more results.

Thank you very much.

BLITZER: Dominique De Villepin, the French foreign minister, speaking in English after his presentation before the U.N. Security Council, saying very bluntly, give peace a chance, let the inspectors continue to do their work.

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