Chirac recaps French foreign policy agenda

29th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 29 (AFP) - In a wide-ranging speech on foreign policy issues, French President Jacques Chirac on Monday called on the world to combat terrorism "ceaselessly and without flinching", and also asked Iran to reconsider a decision on its nuclear programme.

PARIS, Aug 29 (AFP) - In a wide-ranging speech on foreign policy issues, French President Jacques Chirac on Monday called on the world to combat terrorism "ceaselessly and without flinching", and also asked Iran to reconsider a decision on its nuclear programme.

Recalling a number of recent terrorist attacks around the world -- in London, the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, Turkey and Israel -- Chirac also said the world community must not lose sight of its basic values in combatting the threat.

"Against this barbarism that usurps and warps the causes that it claims to defend, we must fight ceaselessly and without flinching, while ensuring absolute respect for our values," he told the annual gathering of French ambassadors based around the world.

Chirac, whose country is one of three European Union states that has been negotiating with Iran over the implementation of its nuclear programme, also called on that country to respect a commitment to suspend fuel enrichment work, or see the issue referred to the UN Security Council.

"I call on the Iranian authorities to choose cooperation and trust by seriously examining" an offer from the European Union and "returning to their commitments to suspend activities linked to the production of fissile material", Chirac said in his speech.

"We appeal to Iran's spirit of responsibility to reestablish cooperation and trust, otherwise, and I would regret this, the Security Council would have no other choice than to take up the issue," Chirac said.

The United States has been to the fore in accusing Iran -- a major oil producer, and the next-door neighbour of Iraq -- of seeking to use its civil nuclear power programme to secretly make nuclear weapons.

France, along with Britain and Germany, have been negotiating with Tehran, which is a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, on the issue.

In his speech Chirac also praised Israel for its unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, but demanded that the so-called roadmap plan for the creation of an independent Palestinian state be revived.

"The courageous decision by Israel to leave Gaza and the efforts of the Palestinian authority to put an end to violence are creating a new dynamic," he told the ambassadors.

"France recognises the exemplary course of events of this first stage. It is now necessary, through the roadmap, to carry on negotiations without delay to create peace founded on two democratic states," he said.

He said the Middle East conflict was "at the heart of global instability" and pledged France's ongoing commitment to finding a solution.

The French leader further called for a strong international response to the threat of bird flu, warning it could develop into a major health crisis.

"Bird flu must be met with a vigorous and concerted international response. The WHO (World Health Organisation) has already advised states to stock up on medicines," Chirac said. "France for its part is taking measures to protect its population [from] the risk of a health crisis of great magnitude," he said.

Turning to plans for reform of the United Nations, which is due to hold a key summit meeting in New York on September 14-16, Chirac renewed France's commitment to seek an enlargement of the world body's Security Council.

"To take up the new challenges of collective security, to guarantee peace, the world needs a strong Security Council that better reflects today's realities and balances," Chirac said.

He once again called for the inclusion of the so-called Group of Four countries -- Brazil, Germany, India and Japan -- plus two as yet to be chosen African states as permanent members, a plan which is strongly opposed by both the United States and China.

"It is time to go ahead with the enlargement, too long delayed, of this essential grouping," said Chirac.

The 15-seat Security Council has only five permanent members with veto powers: Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States. A proposal by the by so-called G4 -- Brazil, Germany, India and Japan -- would boost council membership to 25, with six new permanent non-veto-wielding seats and four non-permanent seats.

The G4 plan is strongly opposed, however, by two permanent members, China and the United States, and has also failed to secure the support of the 53-nation African Union.

The French leader also said his country would continue to push a plan for an international levy on the price of airline tickets, with the proceeds to be used to fund development aid worldwide.

He said that the first step would be discussing the issue at the annual General Assembly of the United Nations in New York in September. "Along with France, Germany, Algeria, Brazil, Chile and Spain have decided to take this project to New York," Chirac said.

Last month, Chirac also wrote to 145 world leaders to seek their backing for the plan, which faces strong opposition in the airline industry.

The tax would be a surcharge on tickets delivered to passengers taking off from airports situated on the territory of countries participating in the scheme. Paris estimates the scheme could raise EUR 2.4 billion a year for the fight against scourges such as HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

Airlines dispute what they see as arbitrary additional taxation of the industry at a time when they are faced with a continuing rise in the price of aviation fuel.

Originally Chirac wanted an international tax that would double the amount of official development aid given to poor countries -- at present some EUR 40.6 billion (US $50 billion a year) --  but his idea was met with scepticism or, in the case of the United States, downright hostility.

Separately, Chirac called for an "immediate moratorium" on all export subsidies for agricultural products sold to African countries.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, Chirac, terrorism, French foreign policy, Iran, nuclear programme, Israel, United Nations, Security Council, airline tax




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