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Chirac Expresses Regret After US Attack on Iraq - 2003-03-20

French President Jacques Chirac has expressed regret at the U.S.-led attack on Iraq. The President's sentiments were echoed by other politicians in France, which had pressed for a peaceful solution to the crisis.

President Chirac criticized the U.S.-led war as being waged without U.N. authorization.

Mr. Chirac said he hoped the military operations would be as rapid and cause as few deaths as possible. Either way, he said, the war will carry heavy consequences for the future.

Mr. Chirac also called on the European Union to build a credible defense and independent voice of its own.

Waging war on Iraq has deeply divided the European Union. France was a key proponent for giving U.N. weapons inspectors in Baghdad more time.

Mr. Chirac's criticism was echoed by French politicians across the political spectrum. France's Senate and National Assembly broke off their morning session in symbolic protest.