PARIS – French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin on Friday sent a blunt message to President Bush on Iraq: "It's not a game, it's not over."
Raffarin made his remarks during a visit to India, according to a Reuters report. He spoke just hours after Bush's comments on Thursday afternoon that "the game is over" for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
Also on Friday, French President Jacques Chirac issued a stern warning to Baghdad to comply with U.N. inspectors, but said he still disagreed with President Bush's declaration that time has run out for Saddam Hussein.
Chirac, still clinging to hope of a diplomatic settlement to the Iraqi crisis, said Baghdad should cooperate actively with U.N. weapons inspectors. The inspectors have criticized Iraq's level of cooperation.
Iraqi authorities "cannot shy away from their responsibility. The Iraqi regime must understand this," Chirac said.
He made his comments at the presidential palace during a news conference with Finland Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen.
Chirac said the international community had made its will known -- that the way to disarm Iraq is with a thorough system of U.N.-sanctioned inspections designed to verify that Baghdad does not possess biological, chemical or nuclear weapons.
Earlier this week, France proposed to the U.N. Security Council that inspections teams be doubled or tripled, and offered Mirage fighter jets and other assistance to get the job done.
Despite Bush's comments, Chirac on Friday said "An alternative to war still exists. The decision to resort to war cannot be made lightly."
The French president has not ruled out participating in military action as a last resort.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.