Spain's ex-PM knocks Chirac in memoirs

10th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

MADRID, April 10 (AFP) - Spain's former prime minister Jose Maria Aznar has heaped praise on US President George W. Bush in his memoirs, extracts of which were published in Sunday's newspapers, describing him as a man endowed with strong leadership abilities.

MADRID, April 10 (AFP) - Spain's former prime minister Jose Maria Aznar has heaped praise on US President George W. Bush in his memoirs, extracts of which were published in Sunday's newspapers, describing him as a man endowed with strong leadership abilities.

But Aznar, one of the US' closest European allies in the Iraq war, was cooler in his comments about French President Jacques Chirac whom he described as "more impetuous than considered".

Fidel Castro, Tony Blair, Silvio Berlusconi and Pope John Paul II also feature among about 40 world leaders mentioned in the memoirs which cover Aznar's two mandates from 1996 until 2004.

The Spanish conservative ex-leader, who committed troops to the war in Iraq, is expansive in his praise for Bush who he writes is "endowed with a capacity and will to lead", and for whom "history will finally, as for (former US president Ronald) Reagan, recognise his stature".

The book, entitled 'Portraits and Profiles, from Fraga to Bush', referring to his political mentor Manuel Fraga who preceded Aznar as leader of the Popular Party, goes on sale in Spain in the coming days.

Pope John Paul II also made a strong impression on Aznar who says he was an "example of the strongest leadership" that he ever encountered despite their differences on the Iraq war.

However, while Aznar enjoyed a honeymoon period in relations with Bush, those with the French President Jacques Chirac deteriorated as Chirac became the main leader of international opposition to the Iraq war.

The French president is described in his memoirs as "more impetuous than considered, more sympathetic than serious, more dynamic than serene and furthermore possessing a strong instinct to defend what he considers his interests".

Cuban leader Fidel Castro is described by Aznar as a "cruel and inhuman" dictator. In 1998, Aznar said if it had been up to him he would have immediately lifted the embargo on Cuba and "finished with his regime in three months".

Aznar's right-wing Popular Party had been set to win Spain's March 14, 2004 general election under leader Mariano Rajoy after Aznar decided not to seek a third term.

However Madrid's insistence that the March 11 Madrid train bombings were the work of Basque extremists, even as evidence quickly emerged that Islamists had been involved, culminated in a surprise victory for the Socialist Party of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

Some voters appeared to have changed sides, considering that Aznar's party, by blaming ETA and initially ruling out any other line of inquiry, had attempted to mislead the public.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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