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Geschrieben von sasu am 23.06.2003, 6:59 Uhr

sind vielleicht die franzosen die naechsten ?;-): Rumsfeld verschärft den Bestrafungs-Kurs gegenüber Frankreich und betreibt offensichtlich die Isolation des

Posted on Fri, Jun. 20, 2003

Rumsfeld seeks to punish France for its stance
Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON - While President Bush wants to mend fences with France over its opposition to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld is not so forgiving.

In the latest in a series of Pentagon blasts at France, Rumsfeld has prevailed on U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John C. Jumper not to invite his French counterpart, Gen. Richard Wolsztynski, to a prestigious September conference of air force commanders from around the world.

French diplomats have complained bitterly to the State Department and the White House.

An administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said, "The White House is aware of the issue." He declined to say what steps Bush is contemplating to assuage the French over what they regard as a serious affront.

The withheld invitation follows Rumsfeld's decisions to restrict U.S. participation in this month's Paris Air Show. He prohibited attendance by American officers above the rank of colonel and barred demonstration flights by U.S. warplanes.

The Defense Department also disinvited France from a major U.S. air exercise next year. Germany, also a leading critic of the Iraq war, was asked to take part.

Rumsfeld's actions run counter to Bush's decision, affirmed by his meeting June 2 in Evian, France, with French President Jacques Chirac, to try to put behind the two countries the damage done to U.S.-French ties by the dispute over Iraq.

Even while the war in Iraq was under way, Bush let his top lieutenants know that he wanted to begin reversing the serious deterioration in ties with France, said two senior administration officials, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the issue.

They said that at a meeting March 28, Bush rejected a set of punitive actions against France that Rumsfeld proposed in an 11-page memorandum, finding it too harsh.

The proposals in Rumsfeld's memo included recalling all U.S. military liaison officers from France and sending home 60 French military liaison officers, canceling any U.S.-French exercises, ending U.S. Navy port calls in France and French navy port calls in the United States and suspending a number of cooperative projects and intelligence-sharing programs.

"Rumsfeld is running a foreign policy of his own," said Simon Serfaty, an expert on U.S.-European relations at the Center for Strategic and International Relations, a Washington policy institute. "The State Department and the White House have to some extent put France on probation, and Rumsfeld has not."

Some analysts, American officials and European diplomats said Rumsfeld's continuing efforts to penalize France risk further harming an important relationship from which the United States gains important benefits.

Those benefits include peacekeeping in the Balkans, close cooperation in the war on terrorism - including sharing important intelligence on al-Qaida and other extremist groups - and French participation in training a new Afghan army.

France recently supported lifting U.N. sanctions on Iraq, airlifted 100 American citizens from the war-torn West African nation of Liberia and sent 150 special forces to operate with U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Pentagon spokesmen said the restrictions on American participation in the Paris Air Show were due to constraints on resources, and that France was not invited to participate in the annual Red Flag air exercise because of a limited number of slots.

Moreover, they said, invitations to Red Flag, which is at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, would be reserved for countries with which the United States probably would be participating in future military operations.

France has been a regular attendee of the Global Air Chiefs Conference, an annual event hosted by the top commander of the U.S. Air Force.

The world's largest, most prestigious gathering of its kind, the conference is designed to strengthen ties between the U.S. Air Force and air forces from NATO and non-NATO countries.

It includes seminars on trends and developments in military aviation and offers a chance for attendees to make or renew contacts. An invitation is regarded as a symbolic affirmation of the U.S. Air Force's desire to maintain good relations.

France will be the only major air power that will not be at the Sept. 14-20 gathering in Washington.

A senior defense official, also speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue, said Rumsfeld's office had ordered all U.S. military services to inform it of any activities they planned that would include the French.

In response, Jumper's office told Rumsfeld's office that it wanted to invite Wolsztynski to the air chiefs' conference.

"The (U.S.) Air Force view, the French military's view, is what goes on at a (diplomatic) relationship level should not inhibit what is a long-standing relationship between allied militaries," the senior defense official said. "We did try to say let's lower the temperature."

While Rumsfeld did not specifically order that the invitation be withheld, his office let Jumper know that it opposed the French general's attendance.

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