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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 November, 2004, 12:25 GMT
Chirac: Blair gets little from US
Jacques Chirac and Tony Blair
Mr Chirac says he has only once fallen out with Tony Blair
French President Jacques Chirac has said Tony Blair has got little in return for supporting the US over Iraq.

Mr Chirac also told reporters it was difficult for the UK or anyone to be a go-between for Europe and the US.

He was speaking before he visits London on Thursday as part of celebrating the anniversary of the Entente Cordiale.

Tony Blair's spokesman said the remarks were unsurprising but the prime minister did not see relations with the US in terms of "pay back".

Honest broker

The prime minister has consistently urged Europe to recognise the importance of working together with Washington.

In his interview for British newspapers, Mr Chirac says the entente cordiale celebrations had shown friendship between the UK and France.

According to The Times newspaper, Mr Chirac describes the old cross-Channel relationship as "kind of violent love" based on mutual esteem but, at the same time, he adds, "we enjoyed hating each other".

Mr Chirac says he feels no anger towards America and says the transatlantic links are essential.

But he repeats his view of a "multi-polar" world, with a strong Europe as one of the poles and ridicules US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for talking about "Old Europe".

I have no sympathy for unilateralism for its own sake

He plays down the role which Britain or other countries can play as mediators with the US Administration.

"I am not sure, with America as it is these days, that it would be easy for someone, even the British, to be an honest broker," says Mr Chirac.

"Perhaps that will change but that is the current state of things."

Returning favours?

The president also recounts his talks with Mr Blair in the Le Touquet summit, which came just before the Iraq war.

"I said then to Tony Blair: 'We have different positions on Iraq.

Tony Blair and George Bush in the Oval Office
Mr Blair wants the US to reach out in the terror fight

"'Your position should at least have some use.

"'That is to try to obtain in exchange a relaunch of the peace process in the Middle East... You absolutely have to obtain something in exchange for your support.'

"Well, Britain gave its support but I did not see much in return. I am not sure that it is in the nature of our American friends at the moment to return favours systematically."

Falling out

Relations between the prime minister and Mr Chirac have at times been frosty and the pair disagreed over the need for military action in Iraq.

Speaking to British newspapers, Mr Chirac stressed he had "a lot of esteem and a lot of friendship" for Mr Blair.

He says there is no opposition between a British and French vision of Europe.

And he describes how when he comes to Downing Street, Mr Blair's youngest son Leo will come up and say "bonjour Chirac".

Mr Chirac says he has only fallen out once with the prime minister: in a spat about the common agricultural policy two years ago.

UK reports at the time suggested he had accused Mr Blair of being "badly brought up".

"I got angry with him," he says. "It was probably the fatigue after a long summit. We said unpleasant things about each other that we didn't mean."

Alliance on democracy?

In a major foreign affairs speech at London's Guildhall on Monday, Mr Blair again appealed for people in Europe not to parody America's leadership.

But it was still entirely sensible for Europe to say terrorism would not be "beaten by toughness alone".

"I am not - repeat not - advocating a series of military solutions to achieve it, but I am saying that patiently but plainly Europe and America should be working together to bring the democratic, human and political rights we take for granted to those part of the world denied them."

Mr Blair called for greater United Nations leadership in ensuring states protected rather than injured their own citizens.

"None of this, however, will work unless America too reaches out. Multilateralism that works should be its aim. I have no sympathy for unilateralism for its own sake."

US Secretary of State Colin Powell has resigned and is tipped to be replaced by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

Downing Street did not want to comment on those reports but said Ms Rice had a close relationship with British ministers and was held in high regard by Mr Blair.

Watch Tony Blair's speech to the Guildhall in full

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