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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 June, 2005, 21:22 GMT 22:22 UK
Blair urges constitution 'pause'
Jacques Chirac and Tony Blair in Paris
Is there a rapprochement on the constitution's future
It is clearer than ever the process of ratifying the EU constitution must be put on hold for months in a "pause for reflection", Tony Blair has said.

The UK prime minister spoke after his first face-to-face talks with France's President Jacques Chirac since French voters rejected the constitution.

Mr Blair said it was possible EU leaders could agree on the way forward at the summit later this week.

His European talks suggested there was a "change in mood" on the issue.

Deal hope

Mr Chirac and Germany's Gerhard Schroeder have previously said they want the ratification process to continue despite the "No" votes in France and the Netherlands.

After meeting both men on a European tour, Mr Blair said: "After those two 'No' votes, if there was a referendum in most parts of Europe at the moment the answer would be 'No'."

He told reporters in Paris other leaders' positions might have changed when the European Council meets in Brussels on Thursday.

"In respect of the constitution, I'm now more clear than ever before that it's right to have some pause for reflection before proceeding," he said.

"And I believe it's possible that we could reach an agreement at the European Council.

"I don't say it will happen but I think it's possible and I think it would be sensible if we agreed it was sensible, collectively, to come to the view that we should have this pause for reflection over a period of months so we can give Europe the debate it needs and then the direction it needs."

The legislation which would have allowed a UK referendum has already been shelved.

Mr Chirac did not hold the traditional post-talks joint news conference with Mr Blair so his views on the issue are unclear.

Mr Blair said the EU needed to reconnect with its citizens and show it was addressing public concerns such as globalisation and tackling crime.




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