What the foreign papers are saying.
Feb. 11 1998 3:30 AM

The European press was dominated Monday by the divisions within Europe over Iraq, especially the breach between France and Germany. "It is embarrassing for France to note that it is closer to Russia in this crisis than to its principal partner, Germany," said Libération of Paris. "A common European foreign and security policy will have to wait. After Tony Blair in Washington, the German Chancellor Helmut Kohl has now publicly given his support to the American strategy on Iraq, spectacularly separating himself from France and other members of the European Union."


The Paris paper mentioned Italy as one of the countries opposed to military action against Iraq, but Italy's leading newspaper, Corriere della Sera of Milan, said in an editorial that the Italian government's position was not yet clear. With the Russian president paying his first official visit to Rome this week, it said, the government should make up its mind. "What should it tell Boris Yeltsin," it asked, "bearing in mind on the one hand its alliance with America, but on the other hand the pope's declared position against bombing Iraq, the widespread appeals for peace by members of the ruling coalition, and furthermore the still strong resentment over the tragedy of Cavalese [the cable-car disaster in the Dolomites]?" The paper's conclusion: It should come down unequivocally on one side or the other.

In an interview Sunday with Corriere, on the eve of his visit to Italy, Boris Yeltsin said he rejected the idea of American world hegemony. "I must say that any attempt by any country to impose a single model, let alone its own rule, on the world is unrealistic and even dangerous," he said.

In Israel, the conservative Jerusalem Post led with a story saying that U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen "seemed to back down ... from his earlier appeal to Israel not to retaliate in the event of an Iraqi attack" by saying that " 'Israel obviously has the right of self-defense and will exercise that right as they see fit.' " In an editorial, the newspaper expressed alarm over popular Palestinian support for the idea of Iraqi attacks on Israel, even if this was not endorsed by the Palestinian leadership. This suggested that the Palestinians were not interested in negotiating peace on any terms. "Israelis need to be convinced that the peace process is not just about land for the Palestinians, but also peace for Israelis," the newspaper concluded.

In Kuwait, the newspaper Al-Qabas said that the only worthwhile objective for the United States was the removal of Saddam Hussein from power. "A resolution to this crisis, whether diplomatic or military, will only push the region toward more tension, and will only increase the suffering of the Iraqi people if it does not take into consideration the need to topple the regime," Al-Qabas said. "It is not possible to change the regime's attitude. Deceit and the evil intentions are too deeply rooted in the character of the leader in Baghdad."

The Bahrain Tribune led on a statement by Turkish Deputy Premier Bulent Ecevit that the U.S. objective in Iraq was to set up a Kurdish state in northern Iraq and to control the price of oil. The Turkish Daily News said this statement reflected "a drastic change in Turkish official policy towards the Iraqi crisis." Having started out neutral, Ecevit had subsequently decided that Turkey's best interests in dealing with the Kurdish threat from northern Iraq would be better served by closer collaboration with the administration in Baghdad. "That is why they [the Turkish government] do not want either the United States or the United Nations to further weaken Baghdad's grip on its people," the newspaper said. It also stated that the Iraqi Kurds were now reconciled with Baghdad and opposed U.S. air strikes against Iraq, and that there was therefore little danger of Iraqi Kurds flooding into Turkey.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair's relationship with President Clinton continued to be the subject of widespread discussion in the European press, which showed particular interest in Blair's proposal--supported by Clinton--for a worldwide alliance of center-left political parties led by the Democrats and the British Labor Party. But it took Lord Deedes, 84-year-old former editor of the London Daily Telegraph and ex-Conservative minister, to notice what he called "a sartorial curiosity" at last week's White House banquet for the Blairs. "President Clinton wore a wing collar with his black tie, which used to be the British style," he wrote in his weekly Telegraph column. "Our Prime Minister, less formally, wore an evening shirt with a turned down collar, a style introduced to this country by Americans."

A one-sentence letter to the London Times from an A. Hooper of Nottingham, England, said Monday: "Before the U.S. speaks on behalf of the U.N. concerning Iraq, should it not be a fully paid-up member?"