WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Colin Powell urged France on Tuesday to recognize that the government in Iraq is finished and to join the United States in planning for a better life for the Iraqi people.
Powell, in an interview telecast to France, said it was time to put aside the debate on using force to disarm Iraq. "I regret that we have not been able to see eye-to-eye on this issue with France and we will move forward from here," he said.
But Powell still appeared nettled by France's attempt to block the war.
Questioned about France's prewar offer to support the U.S.-led coalition if Iraq used chemical weapons, Powell said, "The fact is, if France wanted to help us, our troops are in just as much danger from high explosive rounds than they are from chemical rounds."
"So I"m not sure what the particular distinction is," he said dismissively on France 3 television.
On postwar Iraq, French President Jacques Chirac also has thrown up roadblocks, threatening to veto in the United Nations any attempt to "legitimatize the military intervention" and "give the belligerents the power to administer Iraq."
Powell made clear Chirac's objections would not deter the U.S. drive, which British Prime Minister Tony Blair is due to take up with President Bush in their talks here and at Camp David beginning Wednesday.
Still, Powell said, France is a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and so anything done through the council on administering Iraq would require France's support.
"Hopefully, France will play a helpful role," he said.
"What we need to do now is to recognize the fact that this regime is finished," Powell said of the government in Baghdad. "It will be removed, and then how do we get together to quickly to help the people of Iraq to a better life."
With the opening of the port of Umm Qasr in southern Iraq, humanitarian aid will start to flow rapidly, he said.
Powell spoke twice by telephone Tuesday with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and twice with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, while Condoleezza Rice, who is Bush's national security assistant, went to New York for talks at the United Nations.