Russia, Germany and France issued a joint declaration today on the need to find a peaceful solution to the crisis with Iraq, the United States and the Security Council. The text of the statement follows:
“Russia, Germany and France, in close coordination, reaffirm that disarming Iraq, in accordance with the relevant resolutions since U.N. Resolution 687, is the common objective of the international community and must be achieved as soon as possible.
“There is a debate on how this should be done. This debate must continue in the spirit of friendship and respect that characterises our relations with the United States and other countries. Any solution must be inspired by the principles of the United Nations charter as were recently quoted by the secretary general Kofi Annan.
“U.N. Resolution 1441, adopted unanimously by the U.N. Security Council, provides a framework of which the potential has not yet been fully exploited.
“The inspections led by the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have already produced results. Russia, Germany and France favour the continuation of the inspections and a substantial reinforcement of their human and technical capacities through all possible means and in liaison with the inspectors, in the framework of the U.N. resolution 1441.
“There is still an alternative to war. The use of force can only be considered as a last resort. Russia, Germany and France are determined to ensure that everything possible is done to disarm Iraq peacefully.
“For the inspections to be completed, it is up to Iraq to actively cooperate with the IAEA and the UNMOVIC. Iraq must fully accept its responsibilities.
“Russia, Germany and France note that the position they are expressing is similar to that of a large number of countries within the Security Council.”
On another matter, I will not be able to post my hypothesis today about the real reason the United States is eager to go to war with Iraq. My apologies. I will post it tomorrow. I will also be posting a report from a panel discussion tonight at Columbia university featuring three members of Iraqi opposition groups, including the Iraqi Forum for Democracy and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.