Chirac extends 'friendship' on 9/11 anniversary

11th September 2006, Comments 0 comments

HELSINKI, Sept 10, 2006 (AFP) - President Jacques Chirac has written to George W. Bush to remind the US President of France's "friendship and solidarity" with America ahead of the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

HELSINKI, Sept 10, 2006 (AFP) - President Jacques Chirac has written to George W. Bush to remind the US President of France's "friendship and solidarity" with America ahead of the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

Despite often strained relations with his US counterpart, Chirac stressed France's strong ties with the United States in a letter made public on the sidelines of a Europe-Asia summit in Helsinki.

"In these days of sad commemorations, I wish to express the friendship and solidarity of the French people with the American people to you," he wrote.

The United States is to mark the anniversary of the September 11 attacks on Monday with wreath-laying ceremonies, memorial services and personal tributes to the nearly 3,000 people who died.

Although Chirac was among the first world leaders to extend support to the United States during a visit shortly after the attacks, relations with Washington hit all-time lows in the run-up to the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, which Paris staunchly opposed.

"Our meeting on September 18 in Washington sealed the agreement between our two countries to fight terrorism," Chirac said.

In New York, French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy Sunday meanwhile hailed New York firefighters as the heroes of September 11 in a ceremony marking the fifth anniversary of the attacks.

"On September 11, 2001, you, the fire-fighters of New York, you showed the entire world the meaning of heroism," Sarkozy said accompanied by Aiden Fontana, whose father died that day.

"Thanks to you, thousands of innocent people are alive today," Sarkozy said at the home of Engine 54-Ladder 4-Battalion 9, which lost the most members in the World Trade Center disaster.

"And to you, I want to say that like all the children of killed fire-fighters, 'Your fathers were heroes.'," he told the 10-year-old Fontana.

Sarkozy, a likely candidate for president in France in 2007, noted that there were five French citizens among the almost 3,000 killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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