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France pushing for an Iran-Iraq cease-fire

French Foreign Minister Claude Cheysson has launched a diplomatic move that might entice Iraq and Iran to accept a limited truce, according to diplomatic sources.

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In the next few days France - with the support of the United States, Britain, and the Netherlands - plans to introduce a resolution in the UN Security Council calling for a cease-fire only in the waterways near the two warring nations, Monitor special contributor Louis Wiznitzer reports.

This would presumably restrain Iran from following through on its recent threat to block all tankers sailing in and out of the Strait of Hormuz. The threat came after reports about France's plan to deliver to Iraq five Super Etendard jets.

At the same time, the resolution would refer to a report of the the UN Secretary-General which mentions severe damage inflicted on Iranian civilians by Iraqi planes. Implicitly, it demands that these bombings stop.

Up to now, Iran has not responded to Security Council appeals for a cease-fire. It reportedly considers the council to be unfair, and to have failed to condemn Iraq's original invasion in 1980. The proposed resolution, however, might get Iran off the hook, since it would oblige Iraq not to make use of its new missiles on Iran's oil terminals in the Gulf.

This limited cease-fire could be used as a building block and could lead later on to an extended and general cease-fire. Critics, however, say that France, while arming Iraq with a new and deadly weapon, also wants to be seen as initiating a diplomatic process that could make the weapon useless. According to reliable sources, no opposition to the resolution is expected in the council.

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