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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 June, 2003, 15:04 GMT 16:04 UK
Chirac reopens Iraq wounds
Summit delegates share a joke in Evian
A notable absentee on the last day was the US president
French President Jacques Chirac has made clear he still believes the US-led military action against Iraq was illegitimate, despite backing reconstruction efforts in the wake of a bitter diplomatic spat.

At a news conference at the end of the G8 summit France was hosting, Mr Chirac said that any military action not supported by the United Nations Security Council was illegal.

He also called for international rules to be respected in a spirit of dialogue and multi-lateralism.

His comments followed publication of a final summit declaration in which the leading industrialised nations said their aim was a "fully sovereign, stable and democratic Iraq".

I didn't approve that, and I still don't approve it, and I said as much yesterday to President Bush... But now, the situation being what it is, we have to work together
President Chirac

The G8 - Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and US - said they "share the conviction that the time has now come to build peace and to reconstruct Iraq".

The three-day summit provided the first opportunity for some of the leaders - notably the US and French presidents - to meet since sharp differences developed over military action in Iraq.

BBC diplomatic correspondent Barnaby Mason says that politically, the summit turned into a damage limitation exercise after the divisions over the Iraq war, which was also strongly opposed by Germany and Russia.

President George W Bush was not present for the summit's final session on Tuesday, having left the previous day on the Middle Eastern leg of his foreign tour.

Prickly

"We consider that all military action not endorsed by the international community, through, in particular, the Security Council, was both illegitimate and illegal, is illegitimate and illegal. And we have not changed our view on that", Mr Chirac told reporters in Evian.

What summit pictures reveal about post-war relationships

He said he had told President Bush as much when the two men met on Monday - their first face-to-face talks since the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Both said the talks had been held in a positive and constructive atmosphere, but although they appeared relaxed, observers said the atmosphere behind the scenes remained prickly.

At the end of the summit, our correspondent says, the transatlantic disagreement about Washington's right to take pre-emptive forceful action against alleged threats is still there for everyone to see.

Mr Chirac also blamed the Americans for disappointed hopes that the summit could help narrow the gap between rich and poor.

They were happy, he said, to see an end to subsidies on European farm produce, but not so happy to end subsidies for their own crops.


The summit has been marred by violence in nearby Swiss towns, with thousands of protesters clashing with riot police for a third night in Geneva.

Police used tear gas, rubber pellets and water cannon to disperse the demonstrators, who staged a sit-in after refusing to be searched by police.

And at the weekend, masked rioters destroyed and looted shops in Geneva before police cleared the streets.

Tackling terror

The final summit declaration expressed determination to support the latest US efforts to bring peace to the Middle East, and said delegates had discussed the "desirability" of a comprehensive settlement including Syria and Lebanon.

It also voiced concern over reports of mounting violence against opposition activists in Zimbabwe, and called on the government of Robert Mugabe to respect the right to peaceful demonstration.

And in a separate statement issued on Monday, the G8 called global terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction "the pre-eminent threat to international security".

The world community had to use weapons inspections, export controls "and, if necessary, other measures" to tackle the threat of these weapons, it said.

"We strongly urge North Korea to visibly, verifiably and irreversibly dismantle any nuclear weapons programmes," said the statement.

It added that Iran's nuclear programme could also lead to weapons production.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's James Robbins
"The summit achieved very little"



SEE ALSO:
What did Evian achieve?
03 Jun 03  |  Europe
France and US patch up quarrel
02 Jun 03  |  Europe
Russia 'halting Iran nuclear help'
02 Jun 03  |  Middle East
Behind the French-US bonhomie
02 Jun 03  |  Europe


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