The main features of the Franco-German initiative, which is to be presented to the UN Security Council after the weapons inspectors’ report on 14 February, were outlined in Germany’s Der Speigel magazine. These include a tripling in the numbers of weapons inspectors in Iraq, the deployment of UN troops alongside the inspectors to enable more stringent searches, and the designation of all Iraq’s airspace a no-fly zone to give free reign to U2 surveillance planes.

Russian President Putin travelled to France on 10 February following a meeting with Gerhard Schroder in Berlin the previous day. Speaking in Germany, Putin expressed his solidarity with the two countries, whom US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld recently designated ‘old Europe’: ‘At the moment, there is no basis for resorting to the use of force,’ Putin said. ‘All those who follow the evolution of the situation in Iraq can see that France, Germany and Russia are almost completely in agreement.’