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Europe

The Next U.N. Battle

Europe's leading editorialists conclude that resistance to U.S. demands for the lifting of sanctions in Iraq could backfire on Moscow, Paris and Berlin if they are seen as blocking the country's postwar development.

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The European press, parsed and pared.

Italy’s Il Messagero comments on the new resolution introduced by the United States to the United Nations calling for an end to sanctions against Iraq. Despite attempts at reconciliation with the anti-war coalition of France, Germany and Russia, the paper doesn’t think the resolution will get an immediate stamp of approval. "At a meeting with U.N. General Secretary Kofi Annan, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell stressed a vital role for the UN in Iraq’s reconstruction," the paper writes, "but on this point, the draft resolution falls short of expectations, and that means we can expect resistance from Moscow, Paris and Berlin."

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung in Geneva comments on the fact that France and Russia say they won’t approve a U.S. resolution as long as U.N. weapons inspectors aren’t allowed back into Iraq. "They could quickly expose themselves to the criticism that they are blocking Iraq's development," the paper writes, adding that this would cause great loss of face. The U.S., on the other hand, would not suffer any negative consequences, the paper says. Rather, it could afford to take an especially tough position against Paris and Moscow.

Berlin’s Kurier focuses on the request to lift sanctions, calling it "very reasonable." The paper argues: "The poorest of the poor in the country have suffered from the sanctions -- not the ones who should have been affected. And now that Saddam Hussein’s regime has fallen, the boycott should also fall. While the discussions go on, the Iraqi people keep on starving."

Britain’s Independent looks at American foreign policy in general and says there is some ground for optimism: "In many conflicts around the world, George W. Bush’s rhetorical response to Sept. 11 initially made matters worse. Most unconvincingly, it was used to justify a war to unseat Saddam Hussein that depleted America’s reserves of goodwill." But the paper thinks that, since then, there’ve been signs that America is dealing with the causes of terrorism more constructively -- by healing regional conflicts. "In Israel-Palestine, Korea, Ireland, Zimbabwe and now Kashmir, the United States has engaged in quiet, even-handed diplomacy," the Independent writes.

Looking at the trilateral meeting between Germany, Poland and France in the framework of the so called "Weimar triangle" the Hamburg-based Financial Times Deutschland opines: "This meeting should have one main goal: To end the triangle." Now that Poland has signed its treaties for EU membership, the sol-called Weimar triangle has fulfilled its mission and should be made into a hexagon by inviting Britain, Spain and Italy to join the meetings, the paper writes, adding: "Europe will only progress, if its most important countries agree on the political, economic and security goals of the Union."