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Bush, Chirac Discuss Iraq at UN

President Bush and French President Jacques Chirac have failed to resolve their differences over the future of Iraq's political transition. But the French leader says he will not veto a U.S.-backed resolution for a multinational security force.

The two leaders met for 45 minutes following their very different speeches to the U.N. General Assembly.

President Bush justified the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and asked the U.N. to help pay for reconstruction. President Chirac denounced the attack, which came without U.N. approval, saying no one can accept the anarchy of a lawless society.

The French leader wants a bigger role for the U.N. in shaping Iraq's political future and is calling for a timetable for a return to self-rule, saying only a multilateral approach guarantees legitimacy and democracy.

President Bush rejects a timetable, saying the process must unfold according to the needs of Iraqis, neither hurried nor delayed by the wishes of other parties.

For all the differences between the two leaders, senior White House officials say President Chirac told Mr. Bush that France would not stand in the way of a new U.N. resolution on Iraq which the White House hopes will lead to more troops and more money for Iraqi security and reconstruction.

Mr. Chirac told reporters that France and the United States share the common goals of securing the peace and rebuilding the country, but he says he warned the U.S. leader that it is very difficult for Iraqis in general to accept a situation that, one way or another, is an occupation.

President Chirac says he spoke very freely and amicably with Mr. Bush and tried to down play some of their differences, saying friends cannot always agree about everything.

In their talks, a U.S. official says President Bush told the French leader that the premature transfer of sovereignty is just not possible because Washington has no intention of turning power over to the 25 members of the U.S.-appointed governing council.

Another Bush administration official saw what he calls a touch of irony in the talks as many world leaders condemned the Iraqi governing council when it was named and now want to shower the council with responsibilities it may not be ready to handle.

White House officials say President Chirac and President Bush also discussed nuclear proliferation and the need for the International Atomic Energy Agency to hold Iran to its obligations not to develop nuclear weapons technology. The leaders discussed Afghanistan as well as the need to get Syria to play a bigger role in the Middle East peace process by blocking Hezbollah.