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Chirac balks at resolution on postwar rule of Iraq

BRUSSELS, Belgium — Jacques Chirac said today that France would not go along with a new U.N. resolution allowing the United States and Britain to administer postwar Iraq.

The French president said at a European Union summit he would "not accept" a resolution that "would legitimize the military intervention (and) would give the belligerents the powers to administer Iraq."

"That would justify the war after the event," Chirac told reporters.

At the summit, British Prime Minister Tony Blair urged his 14 colleagues to support a new U.N. resolution authorizing a post-Saddam "civil authority in Iraq."

Britain has not yet introduced such a Security Council resolution, however.

Chirac said he met with Blair on the sidelines of the EU summit to discuss "the way ahead" in rebuilding their relations within the 15-nation bloc and between one another.

"Mr. Blair and I shared that same spirit," Chirac said.

France has taken a hard stand in opposing the U.S.-led war against Iraq, a position dividing the EU.

Neither the United States nor Britain has stated publicly that it was planning to seek Security Council authorization to administer postwar Iraq. Chirac's comments appeared to be aimed at putting Washington and London on notice that France would oppose, and probably veto, any such resolution.

The majority of the 15 Security Council members would probably favor installing a U.N. administration in Iraq, similar to the U.N. administration now running Kosovo. That possibility has been discussed in the corridors of U.N. headquarters in New York.

The United States and Britain are currently pressing for quick Security Council authorization to transfer authority for the U.N.'s main humanitarian program in Iraq from the Iraqi government to Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The council was discussing the issue today.

Annan proposed a draft resolution Thursday that would give him interim authority over the oil-for-food program, which was providing food to about 60 percent of Iraq's 22 million people. Washington and London had their own proposal. But Russia and France insisted that the only proposal on the table for discussion Friday was Annan's, a reflection of the lingering opposition to giving the likely occupying powers in Iraq control over a U.N. program.