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Chirac: France owes U.S. a debt

PARIS, France -- French President Jacques Chirac told a ceremony to commemorate the September 11 attacks that "France knows what it owes America."

Speaking at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, Chirac said: "The French people stand with all their hearts at the side of the American people.

He said the terror attacks had wounded "liberty and fraternity," and he vowed "to fight against international terrorism and combat without respite barbarity and the forces of evil."

Earlier, U.S. Ambassador to France Howard Leach laid a wreath to commemorate the anniversary at the Senate gardens in Paris.

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At the embassy, Leach paid tribute to the wife and son of World Trade Center victim Kevin Patrick Connors, who were among the 300 guests.

Connors, 55, worked for a brokerage firm in the building.

Leach also paid tribute to France, saying: "The French contributions to these efforts have been significant and greatly appreciated.

"Every request to the French for assistance was met with enthusiasm -- without fail."

Later on Wednesday, Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin will attend a religious ceremony to honour the victims' memory at the American Cathedral in Paris.

Meanwhile, two powerful beams of light that were projected into the sky over Paris on Tuesday to honour the memory of victims, will be switched on for a second night.

The beams will shine from spotlights near Paris' City Hall.

"With this gesture, it will be the whole Parisian community who will pay homage to New Yorkers, and express its solidarity and its attachment to common values," a city hall statement said.

Before the residence ceremony, Leach helped open a two-day conference on terrorism hosted by the French Senate.

"One year ago today, the United States was attacked in an unprovoked assault," Leach told the delegates.

"This is the horror of terrorism -- a deadly attack on unsuspecting citizens."

Serge Vincon, the vice president of the Senate, said the conference was aimed at clarifying what the war on terrorism would entail.


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