Saturday, April 17, 2004

Jean-David Levitte

"What is at stake now in Iraq is huge," [French ambassador to the US] Jean-David Levitte told students in an address at San Diego State University's Institute on World Affairs. "Because of this, we have to work together, and France is ready to help."

In an interview, Levitte said that once an Iraqi government is elected as planned for June, France will be ready to train and equip Iraqi military police who can help establish and maintain security in the country.

"Security is the main challenge," Levitte said. "There will be no reconstruction without security."

Even so, he reiterated France's opposition to the U.S.-led invasion, saying, "We still consider this war was not necessary."

Levitte said there was no evidence that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat to the United States and no evidence linking him to those who attacked America on Sept. 11, 2001, including Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda.

France does not intend to send its own troops to Iraq, even as part of a United Nations force, Levitte said.

San Diego Union Tribune 4/17/04

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