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Last Updated: Saturday, 5 June, 2004, 19:27 GMT 20:27 UK
Allies hopeful on Iraq resolution
Presidents Bush and Chirac
The two leaders were keen to bypass their differences
French President Jacques Chirac has expressed confidence that a United Nations resolution on Iraq will be adopted within the next few days.

Mr Chirac said he hoped the resolution would convince Iraqis that the future of their country was in their hands.

He was speaking after talks in Paris with his US counterpart, George W Bush.

Mr Bush said US-led troops would stay in Iraq after the handover on 30 June. President Chirac said their position must be clarified in the resolution.

Maps out the handover to a sovereign Iraqi government by 30 June
Provides for a US-led multinational force, with authority to take all necessary measures for security, while setting a date for the end of its mandate
Grants Iraq full control over its own natural resources while temporarily maintaining international control over its oil revenue fund

France, which opposed the war in Iraq, has the power to veto any resolution.

The BBC's Stephen Sackur says the two presidents were at pains to underline their agreement on a number of world issues - and to play down their differences on Iraq.

The UN Security Council is considering the third draft of the resolution - put forward by the US and the UK on Friday - that recognises Iraq's interim government and endorses a multinational military presence there.

France, Russia and China - veto-wielding members of the Council - have been keen to see a fixed timetable for the withdrawal from Iraq of the US-led forces.

D-Day ceremonies

Mr Bush is in France to mark the 60th anniversary of Allied troops' D-Day landing on the beaches of Normandy to fight Nazi forces during World War II.

Mr Chirac said that at the ceremonies in Normandy he would tell Americans: "France says thank you, and France does not forget."

Chirac said he understood why Mr Bush has compared the Iraq war to the liberation of Europe in World War II, given this weekend's celebrations. But he insisted: "History does not repeat itself."

Mr Chirac said he was happy that the "tyrannical regime of Saddam Hussein" was no longer in power.

But he said that on the negative side was the "disorder" in Iraq.

And he again questioned Mr Bush's justification for war.

"I have always said that I have no information that would lead me to believe that there were, or were not for that matter, weapons of mass destruction in Iraq," Mr Chirac said.

But he said: "We share one and the same conviction today, namely that there is no alternative to restoring peace... in Iraq."

As the two leaders met, thousands of people marched through Paris to protest against President Bush and his policies on Iraq.

Some wore t-shirts depicting Mr Bush as a war criminal and carrying banners reading "Bush - Terrorist number one" and "US troops out of Iraq".

Violence in Iraq

Mr Bush arrived in Paris on Saturday, having first visited one of his staunchest European allies, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Mr Berlusconi pledged to keep Italian troops in Iraq for as long as they were needed, despite popular opposition.

But Mr Bush faced tough words from Pope John Paul II who has condemned the Iraq war.

In Iraq on Saturday, at least two people were killed when their vehicles were ambushed on the main road to Baghdad airport. A US military spokesman said the dead were believed to have been security contractors.

In a separate incident, a US soldier died and three others were wounded when a roadside bomb went off as their patrol passed by.

In the northern city of Mosul, one foreign civilian was killed and three others wounded when gunmen opened fire on two vehicles, the US military said.

The BBC's Stephen Sackur
"George et Jacques may not be bosom buddies but they smiled dutifully"


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