Poland apologises for French missiles report

 

Poland apologised to Francefor saying its troops had found advanced French-mademissiles in Iraq that had been produced this year.

The report sparked criticism from French President JacquesChirac, who called it wrong and drawn up without proper checks.

But neither Polish nor French authorities denied that theRoland-type anti-aircraft weapons were found near the Iraqi townof Hilla in a zone controlled by the Polish-led military force.

"I apologised to France for this information, which had beenissued without my authorisation," said Defence Minister JerzySzmajdzinski, adding that an investigation had been ordered.

He said Polish troops were likely to have interpreted the2003 inscription on the missiles as the year of theirproduction. "And this could have been, for example, the date upto which they are fit to be used," he said.

The Defence Ministry said on Friday that Polish troops inIraq had discovered four French-made Roland missiles, which arepart of short-range air defence systems in many countriesincluding France and Germany.

The spat briefly sent France's relations with Poland, thebiggest of 10 countries set to join the EU in seven months, tofresh lows after Chirac criticised Warsaw for supporting theU.S.-led war on Iraq, some diplomats said.

But a senior French diplomatic source told reporters thatfollowing the Polish apology "France was satisfied and the issuewas clarified".