WASHINGTON - France should "pay some consequences" for its opposition to the US-led war in Iraq, particularly for its veto of NATO support for Turkey, deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz said Thursday.
"The French have behaved in ways ... that have been very damaging to NATO. I think France is going to pay some consequences, not just with us but with our countries who view it that way," he told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
"But I don't think we want to make the Iraqi people the victims of that particular quarrel," he said.
General James Jones, the supreme allied commander in Europe, told the committee that France's military cooperation has continued as usual within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
He noted that France and Germany, while opposing the war, have allowed US and British warplanes to use their airspace to conduct airstrikes on Iraq.
France "plays roughly the same role in formulating military positions in response to taskings from the North Atlantic Council as does any other member nation."
Wolfowitz said that France had contributed to the US-led effort to oust the Taliban militia from Afghanistan.
"France has actually made some significant contributions in Afghanistan. And I think that's probably - we should note that," he said.
"The French, on a bilateral basis, frequently do things with us that they then don't support in NATO."
"If we just looked at our military relationship, you'd get a reasonably healthy view of things. It's the politicians, I guess, that we have an issue," Wolfowitz said.
He stressed France, Germany and Russia could contribute to the reconstruction of Iraq by wiping clean Iraq's enormous debt.
"I hope for example they'll think about the very large debts that come from money that was lent to Saddam Hussein to buy weapons and to build palaces and to build instruments of repression," he said in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The three countries Wolfowitz cited had opposed the US-British war on Iraq, saying more time should have been given to US weapons inspectors to do their job.
"I think they ought to consider whether it might not be appropriate to forgive some or all of that debt so that the new Iraqi government isn't burdened with it.
"There's a great deal they can do," he said. "This is a time to think about the future."