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Tue, May 27, 2003 - Page 12 News List

Chirac presses G8 leaders to kickstart world's economies

AFP , LONDON

French President Jacques Chirac has urged G8 leaders to focus on kickstarting global growth at the G8 summit in Evian, saying in an interview that all G8 member states shared the same economic values despite differences over Iraq.

"I am convinced Evian can convey a message of confidence in world economic growth; but this message has to be credible and the confidence fully justified," Chirac told yesterday's edition of the Financial Times.

"Despite our differences, we in the G8 all share the same set of economic values," the president said, in an allusion to the huge gulf that opened up between France, Germany and Russia on the one side and Britain and the US on the other over the war on Iraq.

Chirac, whose unapologetic stance against the war angered the White House and sparked a major trans-Atlantic diplomatic rift, appeared to try to soothe frayed nerves ahead of the Evian summit in southeastern France June 1 to 3.

The president will meet with US President George W. Bush at the summit, as well as at the tricentennial celebration of Saint Petersburg.

Asked about the weakening dollar and the ever-strengthening euro -- which is nearing a record high -- Chirac said G8 leaders would likely not comment on the possible consequences for the global economy.

"I don't think the present situation requires any particular comment."

He stressed that cooperation was essential to tackle the economy, with G8 countries facing growing unemployment, spiraling deficits and slowing consumer spending.

"What we have got to make clear to the world [is that] we are determined to use all our energy to work together," he told the financial broadsheet.

Chirac remained steadfast in his opinion regarding the war in Iraq, which saw the UN deeply divided over how to confront the now-ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

"A war that lacks legitimacy does not acquire legitimacy just because it has been won," the president said.

The G8 political leaders, encompassing Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US, will meet in the French alpine resort of Evian on the Swiss border for their annual summit from June 1.

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