Chirac, Blair agree to work together in UN
PARIS: French President Jacques Chirac and visiting British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Sunday agreed to work together in the United Nations to ensure a smooth political transition in Iraq, French officials said.
During a working lunch with Mr Blair, Mr Chirac again “insisted on the need for a true break on June 30, and on a real transfer of power” to the Iraqi people from the US-led coalition, his spokeswoman Catherine Colonna told reporters.
Mr Chirac and Mr Blair “agreed, no matter what the difficulties or differences in approach, that the French and the British will work in good cooperation to contribute to the search for a solution” to the Iraq crisis, Ms Colonna said.
The two leaders discussed “what should be included in a new UN Security Council resolution to help ensure that the process of a return to sovereignty unfolds smoothly”. Ms Colonna said Mr Chirac and Mr Blair also discussed the situation on the ground in Iraq, especially the increase in violence.
UN special envoy to Iraq Lakhdar Brahimi reportedly intends to invite technocrats to form the interim government after the handover of sovereignty on June 30, with elections scheduled for January. The United States is hoping for a Security Council resolution to support the transfer of power from the coalition to an Iraqi government.
Earlier, during a question-and-answer session with 400 French and British students at the Elysee presidential palace, Mr Chirac indirectly criticised the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers, saying that humiliation brings “aggressive reflexes”.
“Every time you humiliate, in one way or another, you create aggressive reflexes,” Mr Chirac said.
“Respect for others is the key to development and peace in the world,” he said, with the visiting British prime minister by his side.
The French president said that it was “clear that today a very large majority of Iraqis have negative feelings about the forces of peace, which they consider to be forces of occupation”. —AFP