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Iraq missile pledge pleases France

De Villepin
De Villepin said Iraq's move proved France is right

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PARIS, France (CNN) -- Iraq's agreement to destroy its Al Samoud 2 missiles shows that it can be disarmed without war, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said Friday.

"This confirms that the inspections give good results," he said. "France's choice, which is the choice of the majority of the international community, is today confirmed."

Iraq has said it will cooperate with an order by U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix and may begin the process Saturday of destroying its Al Samoud 2 missiles, though it said it needed a discussion on how to go about destroying them. U.N. officials estimate Iraq has between 100 and 120 Al Samoud 2 missiles, which they say violate the 150 km range limit allowed under U.N. resolutions regarding Iraq.

Calling it an "important stage in the disarming process," de Villepin said Baghdad's agreement to comply with the demand shows "a good example" of how the inspections can achieve their intended results.

He would not say whether France will veto a new resolution on Iraq, presented by the United States, Britain, and Spain. "It's the policy of France not to comment on its right to use a veto," he said.

But, he said, "A second resolution is premature. ... A second resolution had been envisaged by the U.N. only in case of meeting a dead end."

"There is no reason to abandon the peaceful voice," he added. "It's a conviction of a large majority of the international community and the Security Council."

The council has five permanent members who hold veto power. Two of them, the United States and Britain, are strongly lobbying the other three -- France, China and Russia -- to support a second resolution.

De Villepin said Friday that France's view is shared by Russia and supported by China. Germany, a rotating member of the council, also shares France's opposition to a war in Iraq, he said.

France is reaching out to members of the Security Council as well, de Villepin said.

"Of course there is much left to be done," he said, noting that Iraq must provide more information and verify that its stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons have been destroyed. If any weapons of mass destruction still exist in Iraq, they must be destroyed, he said.

Also, de Villepin pointed to North Korea and said Iraq is only one of the proliferation crises the world is facing.

In making a decision about Iraq, "Europe has in its hands a great responsibility," he said. "The fate is in each country's hands of the destiny of war and peace."

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