Final Word from Friday, February 14, 2003

French France Ambassador Joel de Zorzi joked on Wed. at a talk on French-German relations that the two countries are now so close that he knows what Germany Amb. Michael Libal is saying, even without fully understanding his language. Comprehending the Czechs, its seems, might not be so easy. They are widely seen as a strong U.S. ally, esp. after Václav Havel signed the "gang of eight" letter, but at times they seem to support the French-German view on Iraq. For example, Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda says repeatedly that the Czechs will go into an Iraq war only if there's a U.N. mandate. However, U.S. Amb. Craig Stapleton said yesterday that the Czech anti-chemical NBC unit will be able to play its role under any contingency scenario (i.e., even without a U.N. mandate). Either the U.S. is overstating its position, or Svoboda isn't playing it straight with the largely anti-war Czech public.


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