France Eyes Diplomatic Role in Iraq

New foreign minister may take on peace conference
By Heather McPherson,  Newser User
Posted Aug 22, 2007 7:50 AM CDT

"Everyone knows the Americans will not be able to get this country out of difficulty alone," the new French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, told a French radio station on his way out of Iraq yesterday. Kouchner 's 3-day visit confirmed that the French see a role for themselves in mediating a political resolution in Iraq.  One possibility is a peace conference that would bring Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds together in France.

Kouchner, the maverick Socialist whom Nicolas Sarkozy appointed to head the foreign ministry this May, staged a similar conference in Lebanon in July. Another possibility is shuttle diplomacy fronted by Kouchner, who has longstanding ties to religious and political leaders in Iraq. "France in general and Bernard Kouchner in particular are uniquely placed to be an honest broker in Iraq," a French official told the Herald Tribune. (More Bernard Kouchner stories.)

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