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Last Updated: Friday, 5 January 2007, 16:09 GMT
Chirac renews attack on Iraq war
Jacques Chirac
Mr Chirac said the war had repercussions for the wider region
French President Jacques Chirac has again criticised the US-led invasion of Iraq, saying it has destabilised the region and allowed terrorism to spread.

In his annual New Year's message to French ambassadors, Mr Chirac said France's opposition to the war was fully justified by the situation now.

He said the conflict set off upheavals that had yet to be fully played out.

The address is likely to be one of Mr Chirac's last foreign policy speeches before presidential elections in April.

It is thought highly unlikely he will stand for a third term as president.

The invasion had turned the Middle East into the epicentre of global tension at the gates of Europe, Mr Chirac added.

"As France had foreseen and feared, the war in Iraq has sparked upheavals that have yet to show their full effects," he said.

"This adventure exacerbated the divisions between communities and shook the very integrity of Iraq. It weakened the stability of the whole region where every country is now worried about its security."

The international community had a duty to try to rebuild confidence in peace in the region, he said, adding that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was crystallising resentment.

Mr Chirac also called on Iran to halt its nuclear enrichment activities, saying this would help promote stability in the region.

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