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Chirac: U.S. action brought crisis

Chirac greets German Chancellor Schroeder before the U.N. session
Chirac greets German Chancellor Schroeder before the U.N. session

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start quoteThe culture of confrontation must give way to a culture of action aimed at achieving our goals.end quote
-- Jacques Chirac
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NEW YORK -- French President Jacques Chirac has mounted a stinging attack on U.S.-led action in Iraq in a speech to the United Nations.

Speaking after President George W. Bush called for world support for the U.S.-led occupation and reconstruction of Iraq, Chirac said Tuesday the war had put the U.N. through one of the most severe crises in its history.

"No one can act alone in the name of all and no one can accept the anarchy of a society without rules," said the French president, who had sat in the hall to hear Bush's speech. (Full story; Gallery: Excerpted comments from the General Assembly)

"The war, launched without the authorization of the Security Council, shook the multilateral system," he said. "The United Nations has just been through one of the most grave crises in its history."

A strong opponent of the war, Chirac insisted that the right to use force can only come from the U.N. Security Council.

He called for an early transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi people and proposed a Security Council summit to draft an action plan to fight the spread of weapons of mass destruction and create a permanent corps of U.N. arms inspectors.

"The culture of confrontation must give way to a culture of action aimed at achieving our goals," he said.

"It is up to the United Nations to give legitimacy to this process," he said. "It is also up to the United Nations to assist with the gradual transfer of administrative and economic responsibilities to the present Iraqi institutions according to a realistic timetable and to help the Iraqis draft a constitution and hold elections."

On Monday Chirac said France would not veto a new United Nations resolution tabled by the U.S. to attract more foreign troops and international funds to Iraq even though many other Security Council nations called for a greater role for the U.N.

Chirac had called for the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi people "in a matter of months," but the U.S. is reluctant to set a deadline.

In an interview with The New York Times published Monday, Chirac said he did not intend to veto the U.S. resolution, unless it became "provocative."

"We don't have the intention to oppose. If we oppose it, that would mean voting 'no,' that is to say, to use the veto. I am not in that mind-set at all," he said.

But he said France would vote for the resolution only if it included a deadline for the transfer of sovereignty and a timetable for the switch of power, as well as a "key role" for the United Nations.

Otherwise, he said, France would abstain.

He called for the transfer of power in Iraq from military occupation to the Iraqi people in a two-stage plan.

The president said the plan would involve a symbolic transfer of power from the Americans to the Iraqi Governing Council, then a gradual process of transferring real power over a period of six to nine months.

Chirac said if Iraq's council could be given power, France would be willing to train Iraqi police officers and soldiers.

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