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Powell: France faces consequences

Powell says U.S. will
Powell says U.S. will "take a look at the relationship" with France.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has warned that France will face consequences for having opposed the United States over war in Iraq.

Powell said the United States had to review its relationship with France following its promise to veto any U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing war against Iraq.

"It's over and we have to take a look at the relationship. We have to look at all aspects of our relationship with France in light of this," Powell said during an interview on the Charlie Rose television program Tuesday.

Asked by Rose if there are consequences for standing up to the United States, Powell replied "yes," but did not elaborate.

Responding to Powell's comments, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said Wednesday that France will continue to follow its principles in dealing with issues such as Iraq.

"Throughout the Iraq crisis, France, along with a very large majority of the international community, acted in conformity with its convictions and its principles to defend international law," de Villepin said during a trip to Turkey, according to a statement from France's Foreign Ministry.

"It will continue to do so in all circumstances," he said.

Powell's comments followed a call Tuesday by France's ambassador to the United Nations to "immediately suspend the civilian sanctions" against Iraq.

Jean-Marc de la Sabliere told reporters outside the U.N. Security Council chamber, Sabliere also recommended a gradual "phasing out" of the oil-for-food program.

"Sixty percent of the Iraqi people depend on this program ... and without transition it would be destabilizing and would have humanitarian consequences," Sabliere said.

"The program should be adjusted to take into account realities but there should be a phasing out."

Diplomats say there was no immediate reaction inside the Council to the French suggestion, which was not presented with any detail as to how it could be achieved.

France said a suspension of sanctions could occur immediately, but that a full lifting of sanctions would have to depend on verification by international weapons inspectors that Iraq was free of weapons of mass destruction.

The French are proposing that UNMOVIC -- the UN weapons inspection agency -- work alongside with the U.S. coalition efforts currently underway.

The U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Negroponte said: "Our view is that in light of the dramatically changed circumstances in Iraq that sanctions should be lifted as soon as possible. So we now need to work with France and other countries to see how best that can be achieved and how quickly."

However, Negroponte ruled out any immediate role for U.N. inspectors.

Negroponte said the U.S. coalition "had assumed responsibility for the disarming of Iraq." Asked about the possibility of UNMOVIC regaining responsibility for inspections, he said, "for the time being and for the foreseeable future, we visualize that as being a coalition activity."

Suspension of sanctions will require a resolution of the U.N. Security Council.

In the case of Iraq, the existence of the oil-for-food program and a lack of a clear governing authority in Iraq complicate the lifting of sanctions. Questions include who would sell Iraq's oil and who would be the authority purchasing goods for Iraq.

Diplomats say those questions would need to be resolved for the Security Council to suspend sanctions.

The seven-year-long oil-for-food program allows the Iraqi government to use oil revenues from a U.N. escrow account to purchase humanitarian goods.

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