Chirac, Blair talk tactics face-to-face on Iran, energy

9th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 9, 2006 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac and British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Friday sent out a strong and united message to Iran to halt its controversial nuclear programme as they met for talks here.

PARIS, June 9, 2006 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac and British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Friday sent out a strong and united message to Iran to halt its controversial nuclear programme as they met for talks here.

The two leaders said both countries were at one in their aims to bring a peaceful, diplomatic solution to the crisis as Iran admitted to having stepped up its uranium enrichment activities.

"We call upon the Iranian authorities to consider the positive route in a constructive spirit and not to opt for the route to long-term isolation," Chirac, Blair and key ministers from both governments said in a statement.

Failure by Tehran to suspend the programme, which the West believes is a front for developing atomic weapons, is threatening the long-term stability of the Middle East region, they added.

"We call upon the Iranian authorities to co-operate fully with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and to suspend their activities connected with enrichment, including research and development."

The Iran nuclear situation dominated questions at a post-talks news conference, despite the two countries also announcing a series of measures which will see Paris and London working more closely in a range of areas.

These include Britain potentially benefiting from France's nuclear expertise if it decides to build new atomic power plants and greater co-operation in defence and security matters.

The talks also saw the two countries commit afresh to resolving the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, welcome the new government in Iraq and support peacekeeping and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.

Other commitments included renewed joint efforts to tackle climate change and world poverty.

But on the Iran crisis, in which Britain and France have been heavily involved in seeking incentives for the Islamic republic, Chirac said the international community's call was "the voice of reason".

"There has been enough proliferation already. What we need to do first and foremost is put a stop to proliferation. This is not about Iran, it is about proliferation," he said.

For his part, Blair said everyone wanted a diplomatic solution to the crisis, where the rights and wishes of the international community, as well as those of Iran, were respected.

"We are in a better chance of doing that now. But the bottom line is... that Iran has got to comply with its obligations and people want to facilitate that," he added.

The talks, at the French president's official residence, were marked by none of the disagreements that have clouded previous Franco-British summits.

Flashpoints have included the two countries' differing stances over military action in Iraq in 2003 and the disputed European Union budget last year.

Chirac admitted that France and Britain had "argued, often fought" each other in the past, but "today we are, happily, and more and more so, in a period of solidarity, agreement and good relations".

Blair, who spoke English during the news conference but was spotted testing his French with Chirac as they left for lunch, said both countries benefited much more when they worked together.

"I am more and more sure that the future of France and Britain is a future in which our destinies are inextricably linked," he added.

The summit is likely to be one of the last for both men.

France goes to the polls in May next year to elect a new president. Observers believe it unlikely Chirac, now 73, will stand for his third term.

Blair, who has said he will not stand for a fourth straight term of office, is widely tipped to stand down next year, making way for his finance minister Gordon Brown.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article