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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 November, 2004, 23:00 GMT
Chirac questions US-led Iraq war
French President Jacques Chirac
Chirac says Britain's support for the war has brought few dividends
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 added.

"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 safer."

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 right."

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

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

Jacques Chirac questions Saddam Hussein's removal


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