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In a speech to the French Senate, the German Chancellor has warned against any retreat into protectionism in international trade

PETER THOMPSON: Germany's Chancellor, Helmut Kohl, has used the occasion of a unique invitation by the French to address their Senate to warn about the dangers of his host's hostility to trade reform. With only sixty-four days to go before the American-imposed deadline for a conclusion of the GATT talks, Mr Kohl is pressuring France to change its mind on rejecting farm reform. Mr Kohl's speech to the French Senate is the first ever by a foreign leader. He said that moving back to protectionism would be a fatal error.

Our European correspondent, Majella Anning, reports that as the Chancellor spoke, the United States Trade Negotiator, Mickey Kantor, began two days of talks with the European Community in Brussels.

MAJELLA ANNING: Only a day after the long-awaited Maastricht Treaty on European union was finally ratified, the German Chancellor decided to play the EC unity card. The alliance between France and Germany has always played a pivotal role in pushing the European Community forward. Chancellor Kohl decided not to hold back when he addressed a full session of the French Senate in Paris. Although he referred to Europe as a whole, it was clear his remarks were aimed at the French Government which still opposes the Blair House agreement on cutting farm subsidies and export quotas. The Blair House accord, negotiated last December, is the key to an overall GATT agreement. Helmut Kohl told the French Senators Europeans had to be creative and change their thinking. He said it was a fatal error to believe that Europeans could benefit from going down the protectionist road.

The German leader's timing couldn't have been better. As he was speaking in Paris, the United States trade negotiator, Mickey Kantor, was talking to his EC counterparts in Brussels. He made it crystal-clear what the US thought of French demands to renegotiate the Blair House Accord because it would hurt French farmers.

MICKEY KANTOR: We're not going to either re-open or renegotiate the Blair House agreement. We welcome the Chancellor's statements. We believe that the European Community, Japan and the United States, must lead global growth for opening markets and expanding trade. The Uruguay Round is the linchpin to accomplish those goals. Nothing is more important than a successful conclusion of the Uruguay Round, and I believe Chancellor Kohl's comments, today, are very helpful in reaching that goal.

MAJELLA ANNING: They're helpful because if anyone can persuade the French to do a deal, it's Germany, France's closest and most powerful ally.

The European Community trade negotiator, Sir Leon Brittan, who's been belittled by some French politicians for giving in too much to the Americans, was obviously relieved by the support from Germany.

LEON BRITTAN: I do think that what Chancellor Kohl has said is of particular importance because everybody in France knows that he is an unquestionable, long-standing and loyal friend of France, and what he says is not just in the interests of Germany or even Europe as a whole, but the interests of France as well.

MAJELLA ANNING: As the pace of GATT negotiations hots up, Trade Ministers from the Cairns group of countries headed by Australia will hold a meeting in Geneva this weekend. French attempts to remove agriculture from an overall GATT deal will be fiercely resisted by the Cairns group as well as the United States and all parties will be closely watching the French Government's next move to see if Chancellor Kohl's intervention has the desired effect.

This is Majella Anning in Brussels for A.M.