PARIS Charles Pasqua, a former interior minister of France who has been accused by U.S. lawmakers of involvement in corruption in the oil-for-food program for Iraq, said Monday that he was caught in the cross-fire of what he called a U.S. campaign against France.
At his first press conference to deny claims that he received millions of barrels of oil from Saddam Hussein’s regime, Pasqua said he had no link to a Swiss company that supposedly handled oil allocations on his behalf.
Pasqua described what he called “a general campaign under way in the United States against France” and said France’s opposition to the Iraq war was viewed by the administration of President George W. Bush and “a section of American public opinion as a betrayal.”
“I have the impression that I am being used, used in this campaign,” the former interior minister said. “And I don’t intend to sit idly by.”
Last week, a U.S. Senate committee presented what it said was evidence that Pasqua and a British lawmaker, George Galloway, had received oil allocations from Saddam in return for backing his regime and its campaign against UN sanctions on Iraq.