French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder have reiterated during a Berlin meeting their call for a rapid return to Iraqi self-rule, and for the United Nations to play a key role in the transition period.
President Chirac said the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq should return political power to Iraqis as rapidly as possible, in a matter of months, he said, not years. Mr. Chirac said that a policy based only on security will not help restore security to Iraq, or help its reconstruction. The French president also said the transfer of power should take place under U.N. management.
Mr. Chirac's foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, earlier called for a swift transfer of power in Iraq, a suggestion U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has dismissed as unrealistic.
President Chirac and Chancellor Shroeder led international opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq. In recent months, there have been efforts to ease tensions with the United States and Britain that resulted from that dispute. But disagreements remain. However, the chancellor repeated an offer to help train a new Iraqi police force in Germany, and President Chirac expressed his support.