Thursday, November 18, 2004

Chirac questions US-led Iraq war

French President Jacques Chirac says he is "not at all
sure" the world has become safer with the removal from
power of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

In a BBC interview, Mr Chirac suggested the situation in
Iraq had helped to prompt an increase in terrorism.

The interview, aired on BBC Two's Newsnight programme on
Wednesday, came ahead of his visit to the UK this week.

President Chirac also maintained that any intervention
in Iraq should have been through the United Nations.

" History will tell who is wrong and who is right "
Jacques Chirac

"To a certain extent, Saddam Hussein's departure was a
positive thing," Mr Chirac said when asked if the world
was safer now, as US President George W Bush has
repeatedly stated.

"But it also provoked reactions, such as the
mobilisation in a number of countries, of men and women
of Islam, which has made the world more dangerous," he

"There's no doubt that there has been an increase in
terrorism and one of the origins of that has been the
situation in Iraq.

"I'm not at all sure that one can say that the world is

American culture

When asked if his position on troops in Iraq remained
the same, he said: "The way things are now I can't
imagine that there will be French troops in Iraq."

He defended the use of French troops in Ivory Coast,
whose attack on the Ivorian air force sparked mass
anti-French protests in the West African nation.

" America and Europe have to take it upon themselves to
understand each other " Jacques Chirac

"The situation there is altogether different. The French
in Cote d'Ivoire act under the mandate of the UN and
also under a unanimous mandate of the African Union."

He said he understood that Mr Bush would not change his
mind on Iraq - but, he added, nor would France.

"This is not disrespect towards each other," he said.
"We have two distinct analyses and we draw two different
conclusions. History will tell who is wrong and who is

When asked his views on American culture, Mr Chirac
said: "We can't have a world where there's only one

He said the loss of any language, civilisation or
culture was a "great loss for humanity, because humanity
should preserve its rich diversity, it must not allow it
to perish".

'Strong ties'

But he dismissed as "an absurd idea" that Europe would
build itself against the US.

He described China, India, Asia, Europe and North
America as the "great poles of tomorrow's world and
their requirements must be compatible with peace and, I
hope, democracy".

"America and Europe have to take it upon themselves to
understand each other, not turning against the other
great poles of tomorrow's worlds, but side by side.

"So that when tensions mount and problems arise, there
will be strong ties between these two powers and one of
these ties should be the transatlantic one."

[The interview with President Chirac was broadcast on
Newsnight on BBC Two at 2230 GMT on Wednesday 17
November, and is on the Newsnight website]

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