Villepin has no cause to resign

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said he had no cause to resign, in response to accusations that he contributed to a smear campaign against his chief rival for the presidency, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy.

Villepin told radio station Europe 1 he was 'shocked' and 'indignant' at
the 'libel campaign' targeting him and said he wanted the truth established.
The prime minister said there had 'never been any inquiry' into possible links between Sarkozy and the Clearstream affair, adding that he would assist the judiciary in its investigations if asked to do so.

He said his positive relation with President Jacques Chirac remained unchanged.
Villepin's job -- and possibly the outcome of next year's presidential election -- is on the line as a result of the smear campaign allegations.

The Clearstream affair is a complex political-legal case over allegations of kickbacks in the sale of warships to Taiwan, money-laundering and high-level corruption.

Last week daily newspaper Le Monde reported a senior secret service agent as saying he had been asked to investigate possible links between Sarkozy and Clearstream at the behest of Villepin, who had been acting on Chirac's orders.
The 'revelation' was seen as crucial because an investigating magistrate had determined that an anonymously sent list tying Sarkozy and other prominent names in the French political and business worlds to Clearstream was bogus and designed to cause slander, reports Forbes.

I.L.