France, Russia and Germany have issued a joint declaration calling for strengthened United Nations weapons inspections in Iraq, aimed at peacefully disarming that country.
French President Jacques Chirac presented the declaration today (Monday) in Paris, after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
He said the three countries suggest increasing the number of weapons inspectors in Iraq as well as reinforcing the inspectors' technical capabilities. Mr. Chirac said Russia, Germany and France are determined to ensure everything possible is done to disarm Iraq peacefully and believe war should only be considered as a last resort. He said nothing so far justifies war.
Mr. Putin, who arrived in Paris today (Monday) for a three-day visit, said the crisis in Iraq must be resolved diplomatically. He held talks over the weekend with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in Berlin.
Germany said Sunday it will join France in presenting an initiative to the United Nations Security Council Friday to disarm Iraq without the use of force. Germany's Defense Minister Peter Struck today (Monday) denied German reports that the proposal calls for deploying about one thousand U-N peacekeepers in Iraq.
Earlier today (Monday), Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino called the Franco-German plan "confused." He said it is essential the international community remain unified if it wants to continue pressuring the Iraqi government to disarm.