Chirac leaves EU summit early, misses Iraqi PM

5th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

BRUSSELS, Nov 5 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac left a European Union summit early Friday heading for the United Arab Emirates following the death of founding UAE leader Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan. Chirac's early departure, confirmed by French diplomats, meant that he missed a lunch encounter between EU leaders and Iraqi interim prime minister Iyad Allawi.

BRUSSELS, Nov 5 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac left a European Union summit early Friday heading for the United Arab Emirates following the death of founding UAE leader Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan. Chirac's early departure, confirmed by French diplomats, meant that he missed a lunch encounter between EU leaders and Iraqi interim prime minister Iyad Allawi.

But before leaving, the French president said that he had "never refused" to meet Allawi, who has angered France with a series of verbal attacks on the country that most vocally opposed the US-led war in Iraq.

Chirac said he was leaving for Abu Dhabi rather to pay his condolences after the death of Sheikh Zayed, for whom he said he had felt "much esteem and friendship". French-UAE relations were "close and strong", he added.

Sheikh Zayed, head of state of the seven-member UAE federation since its formation more than 30 years ago, died on Tuesday and was succeeded by his son, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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