The leaders of the world's seven richest nations and Russia have ended a summit in Evian, France, by promising to work together to rebuild Iraq and deal with the potential threat of nuclear weapons in Iran and North Korea. The Group of Eight nations sought to put the tensions caused by the American-led war in Iraq behind them and concentrate on insuring peace and stability in the country, but differences over the war have not gone away.
U.S. President George W. Bush and his most vocal opponent on the war, French President Jacques Chirac, staged a public reconciliation at the summit, with the American leader saying that their disagreements did not mean that they had to be disagreeable with each other.
But Mr. Chirac, in his final news conference, could not resist reiterating his opposition to the war, saying it was illegal and illegitimate because it was not backed by the U.N. Security Council.
He says the Security Council mostly backed France's position because it did not give the green light to the U.S. action. He says he did not approve of the war and still does not, and he said he told President Bush so in their meeting on Monday. But now, he said, it is time to work together to get Iraq back on its feet, and that will not be easy. You can wage war by yourself, he said, but it is a lot more difficult to make peace alone.
The G-8 leaders promised to build what they called a sovereign, stable, democratic Iraq.
But their attention was also focused on Iran and North Korea, countries suspected of trying to acquire nuclear weapons. The G-8 final statement urges the two to put their nuclear programs under international supervision and says the group will try to achieve its goals through such mechanisms as heightened inspections and export controls.
Mr. Chirac said suggestions that there could be a resort to force if Iran fails to comply with the G-8 warnings are "extraordinarily far-fetched."
He said there was never any question of using force against anyone in any area. He said the G-8 wants to have a dialogue with Iran to persuade it to accept international constraints and inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
On Monday, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi told reporters that President Bush had assured his G-8 colleagues that he has no intention of undertaking military action against Iran.
President Chirac sought to give the Evian summit a special emphasis on development issues, especially concerning Africa, the world's poorest continent. But non-governmental organizations monitoring the summit say that, except for pledges of more money to combat AIDS and other diseases, there were promises but little else to suggest that the G-8 is willing to truly tackle Africa's endemic problems.