Chirac ends G8 on defiant note

JACQUES Chirac, the president of France, ended the G8 summit on a note of defiance yesterday as he said he remains convinced that toppling Saddam Hussein was an illegitimate act of war.

After a speech which neither Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, nor George Bush, the United States president, heard - both had already left the summit - Mr Chirac called for international rules to be respected in a spirit of dialogue and multi- lateralism.

His comments underlined the depth of the splits which remained beneath the joint statement at the G8, saying their aim was for a "fully sovereign, stable and democratic Iraq".

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Mr Chirac, understood to be angered that Mr Bush left the summit at Evian after less than 24 hours, to travel to the Middle East, said their words of conciliation should not be confused with agreement.

France’s government, he said, "considers that all military action not endorsed by the international community, through, in particular, the UN Security Council, was both illegitimate and illegal".

He also blamed the US for the failure of the G8 to deliver substantial agreement on eroding world poverty. The US is happy, he said, to see an end to subsidies on European farm produce - but not for its own crops.

After Mr Bush left, Mr Chirac and other leaders inserted a line in the final statement saying they are determined to implement the 1997 Kyoto treaty to reduce greenhouse gases. The US has pulled out of the pact, saying its anti-pollution targets are too costly.

Mr Chirac said the main achievement of the G8 was an expression of solidarity after the divisions of the Iraq war.