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France backs end to Iraq sanctions

Ivanov, Villepin, Fischer.
French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin addresses his Russian and German counterparts.

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SPECIAL REPORT
• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
• Interactive: Sectarian divide

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- France is to vote in favor of a U.N. resolution on lifting sanctions against Iraq.

The resolution would dismantle the oil-for-food program in six months, and would lift all sanctions imposed on Iraq since 1990, except those on weapons.

France will vote in favor of the resolution when it comes up for a vote Thursday, the French Foreign Ministry said Wednesday, ending speculation it was unsatisfied with the document's provisions.

Members of the Security Council have spent the past two days discussing the 12-page resolution, which the United States and co-sponsors Britain and Spain introduced Monday. (Vote looming)

"The text on the table at the Security Council is the result of a compromise," the foreign ministry said in a statement. "During lengthy discussions, important progress has been achieved, even if this text does not go as far as we would have wished. We have, therefore, decided to vote in favor of this resolution."

The document does not address the question of whether U.N. arms inspectors will return to Iraq to search for weapons of mass destruction, leaving that issue for a later time.

The resolution would also end the effective control of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq once that authority can be turned over to an "internationally recognized government" of Iraq, U.S. ambassador John Negroponte has said. The transfer would not fall under any time frame.

France said the draft resolution, while "not perfect," nevertheless takes into account its concerns about the role of the U.N. in Iraq and disarmament, assuring the world body will be "closely involved" in the political process.

It also reasserts the role of UNMOVIC and the IAEA, the two weapons monitoring agencies in Iraq.

The U.N. role was also an issue for the Russians following discussions Tuesday.

The French said they are pleased that the resolution calls for the Security Council to be regularly briefed on the situation in Iraq, and that the coalition's work in Iraq will be subject to international law. They also liked that the use of oil revenues will be transparent and internationally monitored.

Under the resolution, Iraq's oil proceeds go into a development fund with international monitoring, but the United States and Britain would have the authority to use the money for reconstruction.

The oil money would also be temporarily immune from legal claims. The United States is concerned Iraq's creditors, who say they are owed some $400 billion, might want some part of the revenue.

The French statement said voting in favor of the resolution would ensure "hotbeds of insecurity" like the one in Iraq do not become established.

"We should fight relentlessly against such dangers, whether we are talking about terrorism, arms proliferation or the crisis in the Near East," the statement said.

-- CNN Correspondent Chris Burns contributed to this report.


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