The French National Assembly on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved use of French military forces, hours before war broke out in the Persian Gulf.
The 523-43 vote in the lower house of Parliament gave President Francois Mitterrand more support for military action than President Bush was able to wrest from the American Congress last weekend.
The vote came after a low-key debate in which only the Communist Party and the extreme right-wing National Front Party stood in opposition. The French Senate approved the measure by a similar margin later Wednesday afternoon.
“Unless something unexpected, therefore improbable, happens, the arms are going to speak,” Mitterrand said after the vote in a patriotic, nationally televised speech that called on the French people to unite and support their 12,000 soldiers and sailors in the gulf.
Tuesday night in London, the British House of Commons, by a vote of 534 to 57, authorized Prime Minister John Major to use the 35,000 British troops in the gulf conflict.
In contrast, the U.S. Senate on Saturday narrowly approved American military participation in the gulf conflict by a vote of 52 to 47. The House of Representatives voted 250 to 183 to authorize military force.
Thus, within hours after the U.N. ultimatum on the gulf had expired, the three main Western powers with forces on the ground in Saudi Arabia--the United States, Britain and France--had each received parliamentary or congressional assent for war.