French media shrugs off Chirac's London sortie

19th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 19 (AFP) - Franco-British relations have moved closer to what they were before the falling out over the Iraq war, judging from a London summit between French President Jacques Chirac and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, France's newspapers concluded Friday.

PARIS, Nov 19 (AFP) - Franco-British relations have moved closer to what they were before the falling out over the Iraq war, judging from a London summit between French President Jacques Chirac and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, France's newspapers concluded Friday.

While true friendship remained far off, and differences remained over Iraq, both leaders were making a genuine effort to "turn the page" on their disagreement and emphasise cooperation, they said.

French coverage of Chirac's state visit on Thursday, though, contrasted strongly with British comment, some of which accused the French leader of grandstanding for saying the world was a more dangerous place in the aftermath of the US-British invasion of Iraq.

The French newspapers gave minimal attention to the visit, burying it on inside pages and offering no editorial comment.

"The 27th Franco-British summit had the immense merit of erasing, once and for all, the acrimony that dogged relations between Downing Street and the Elysee," was the take of Le Figaro, a right-leaning publication sympathetic to Chirac.

The left-leaning Liberation saw the meeting, which took place Thursday, more or less in the same light, though it smelt a level of artifice in Chirac and Blair's lavish praise for points of cooperation ranging from Iran, Afghanistan, Africa and European defence.

Such mutual back-patting was "obviously a necessary exercise" in bilateral summits, it said.

"But this summit was probably something more than an exercise, (it was) a way of turning the page on profound moments of crisis," it said.

Le Parisien, a popular daily, headlined the "genuine-fake cordiality of Chirac" and highlighted what it considered a major gaffe by the French president: his arrival 20 minutes late at an evening function hosted by Queen Elizabeth II because of London traffic.

"The queen sulked" and left the greeting duties to her husband, Prince Philip, while she changed for the dinner.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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