Chirac to meet with Condoleezza Rice

4th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 4 (AFP) - The United States' new secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, will meet French President Jacques Chirac next Tuesday as part of a tour preceding a European visit by US President George W. Bush later this month, officials in Paris said.

PARIS, Feb 4 (AFP) - The United States' new secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, will meet French President Jacques Chirac next Tuesday as part of a tour preceding a European visit by US President George W. Bush later this month, officials in Paris said.

She will see Chirac at 7:00 pm (1800 GMT) Tuesday and hold a press conference around an hour afterwards with French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier, the officials said, adding that Rice and Barnier would then hold talks of their own.

US officials said that, before the two meetings, Rice would give a speech on US-European relations Tuesday afternoon but gave no details of its content nor its venue.

Rice's spokesman, Richard Boucher, said in Washington on Monday that "she wanted to do it (the speech) in Paris because she felt Paris was one of the places where there's a lot of debate and discussion about the US, about Europe, about common goals, about how we achieve our agenda, and that she wanted to be part of that discussion."

French foreign ministry spokesman Herve Ladsous said the Chirac-Rice meeting would prepare the ground for a working dinner Chirac and Bush are to have in Brussels on February 21 at the start of a four-day European tour by the US president.

Many European countries, led by France, Germany and Russia, clashed with the United States over the war on Iraq.

Relations between Paris and Washington remain frosty even though efforts have been made to paper over the differences.

Rice's tour started in London Friday, when she met British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

She went to Berlin later Friday to hold talks with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. From there, she was to quickly visit Poland, Turkey, Israel, the West Bank and Italy before arriving in France next Tuesday.

After Paris, she is to complete the tour with trips to Belgium and Luxembourg.

Bush's February 21-24 trip is seen as an attempt to reach out to European allies criticised because they did not support the US-led invasion of Iraq to destroy Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction - weapons that it later emerged did not exist.

The day after the dinner with Chirac, Bush will attend an EU-NATO summit in Brussels.

From there, the US president will go to Mainz, Germany to see Schroeder, then to Bratislava, Slovakia, where he will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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