Thursday, March 27
Villepin refuses to say which side he supports
By Anton La Guardia, Diplomatic Editor,, March 28, 2003

France's attempt to repair relations with America and Britain over Iraq backfired yesterday when Dominique de Villepin, their foreign minister, refused to say which side he supported.

During a speech in London, M de Villepin said he hoped for "a swift conclusion with the minimum possible number of casualties".

But asked by The Telegraph whether he hoped American and British forces would win the military campaign to remove Saddam Hussein, he replied angrily: "I'm not going to answer. You have not been listening carefully to what I said before. You already have the answer."

M de Villepin had come to London to mend fences after the bitter disputes ... [...] ...But his apparent reluctance to choose sides will have done serious damage to his charm offensive. Senior British officials said they were "stunned".

Embarrassed French officials tried to salvage the situation by pointing out that, on French television on Monday, M de Villepin said: "Clearly, we hope the US will win this war quickly
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