Germany, France Working on Plan to Avoid Iraq War

Germany and France are working on a broad disarmament plan for Iraq designed to avoid war, including the deployment of U.N. soldiers throughout the country, reconnaissance flights and a tripling of the number of weapons inspectors, a magazine reported Saturday.

The plan could be presented to the U.N. Security Council as a resolution, the weekly Der Spiegel said, though it was unclear how the two countries or the United Nations would win Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's approval for carrying it out.

The plan would have international peacekeepers "in effect take control of the country for years," declare all of Iraq a no-fly zone and lead to agreements with Iraq's neighbors to crack down on smuggled exports of Iraqi oil as part of strengthened economic sanctions.

The German and French governments -- which are opposed to a war on Iraq -- have been working on the plan since the start of the year, the report said.

A German government spokesman said Germany and France are "jointly considering specific peaceful alternatives to a military solution" in Iraq. The spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, refused to comment on details of the report.

German Defense Minister Peter Struck, attending a security policy conference in Munich, said Schroeder would address the topic during a speech to parliament Thursday.

As part of intensified sanctions against Iraq, Western countries would tighten export control laws, Der Spiegel said. France would provide Mirage jets for reconnaissance flights to aid the inspectors in their search for weapons.

Some of the ideas were presented to the Security Council this week by French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin. He suggested tripling the number of inspectors and aiding their job with Mirage jets.

Der Spiegel said Germany and France are sounding out other critics of the U.S. approach about their plan, including Russia, China and Greece.