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France raises terror war concerns

Vedrine accused the U.S. of acting
Vedrine accused the U.S. of acting "unilaterally, without consulting others"  

PARIS, France -- A senior French government minister has attacked the U.S. approach to fighting terrorism as "simplistic."

Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine told France Inter radio on Wednesday: "We are friends of the United States, we are friends of that people and we will remain so.

"But we are threatened today by a new simplism which consists in reducing everything to the war on terrorism.

"That is their approach, but we cannot accept that idea. You have got to tackle the root causes, the situations, poverty, injustice."

Bush's trillion-dollar budget will provide funds to combat future terrorist catastrophes. John King reports.

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Vedrine said the U.S. was showing signs of acting "unilaterally, without consulting others, taking decisions based on its own view of the world and its own interests ... refusing any multilateral negotiation that could limit their decision-making, sovereignty and freedom of action."

Vedrine's criticism is the latest indictation of unease among some of America's European allies over the direction of the post-Afghanistan anti-terror campaign.

Although France was among those European countries that backed the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism following the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, it has joined Germany and Britain in expressing concerns.

All three EU neighbours were critical of last week's State of the Union speech in which President George W. Bush named Iran, Iraq and North Korea as sponsors of terrorism in an "axis of evil."

Vedrine said the rhetoric coming out of Washington was confirmation that the Republican administration approached foreign policy unilaterally.

"It presents a problem because it is not our vision of the world, it is not our vision of international relations, it is not our vision of globalisation," he said.

"It can have very positive aspects if it is mastered, regulated, humanised."

Vedrine also criticised U.S. support for Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians.

He said that Europeans opposed it and that the American vision of globalisation was not one France shared.

"Europeans are unanimous in not supporting the Middle East policy of the White House," Vedrine said.

"We think it is a mistake blindly to accept the policy of pure repression conducted by Ariel Sharon ... we are saying this and we are making a number of other proposals."

Vedrine is not the only European politician to criticise Bush's speech.

Britain's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw described it as domestic electioneering.

"I thought the State of the Union speech was best understood by the fact that there are mid-term congressional elections coming up in November," Straw said.

At the annual security conference in Munich at the weekend, Ludger Volmer, a state secretary at the German foreign ministry, said: "The terror argument cannot be used to settle old scores."


• EU: Israel needs Arafat as 'partner'
January 28, 2002
• Blair, Chirac 'united on terror'
November 29, 2001
• Stop at Afghanistan, says Italy
February 4, 2002
• Straw accused of 'mocking' Bush
February 2, 2002
• Bush speech causes shockwaves
January 30, 2002

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