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America Under Attack: Talk with French President Jacques Chirac

Aired September 13, 2001 - 10:00   ET


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: For now, let us go to London and CNN's Christiane Amanpour, who's standing by now for more live coverage -- Christiane.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Leon, good afternoon, from London. As you know, the United States has been trying to marshal its allies for the political military support in dealing with what happened in the United States on Tuesday. The allies have been calling this an attack, not just on the United States, but also on the whole of the civilized and Democratic world.

Joining us now from Paris is the French President Jacques Chirac, who is giving his first interview on this matter.

Mr. President, thank you for joining us from France.

Can you say now to the American people, to the American president that you and that France stands four square, fully committed, because what the United States plans to do and what the U.S. is going through right now?

JACQUES CHIRAC, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): Trying to find something that they loved and disappeared and showing their despair and their fear, all of that has touched the French people profoundly. And in fact, there was just a poll that was made in France and it showed that 96 percent of the French people are totally -- show total solidity for the French people -- for the American people and the American authorities. I have never, ever remembered such a unanimity so far as solidity was considered.

And also, everybody everyone is asking themselves why? How can one answer this question? This kind of madness, this absurdity, this cruelty, and there's no way that one can justify this kind of behavior. And of course, the French people.

And, yes, the French people show total solidarity for the American people.

AMANPOUR: Mr. President, the United States is trying to build a coalition of allies and of other nations to take sides and act, and stand up and be counted on this side of this battle, as they call it. NATO, yesterday, for the first time in its history, invoked a clause in its treaty that says, an attack on one nation is an attack on all nations. What, in your mind, does that mean for France as it ponders supporting the United States in its response to this? What will France do?

CHIRAC (through translator): First of all, the Americans are not trying to -- I mean they have certainly obtained unanimity around them in this struggle against terrorism, and it's particularly true, with regard to NATO. And, in fact, that was demonstrated last night at the meeting that took place, the NATO meeting that took place last night, and in fact, I'd already talked about it with President Bush, who'd called me one or two hours beforehand. And I of course, confirmed that we would also show solidarity with regard to the introduction of article 5 in the North Atlantic Treaty, and of course that means that France certainly will show solidarity to the Americans. And of course, all NATO countries have done so, and I imagine almost all countries throughout the world.

AMANPOUR: Mr. President, can I press you on that? You were part -- France was part of the Gulf War coalition. France was part of the Balkan coalition. If the United States decides that it has intelligence that leads it to take military action, will France contribute to that military action in any way?

CHIRAC (through translator): France, I'd like to repeat, will be totally supportive. We will show our solidarity. Of course, we will have to examine the situation, we'll have to see who is culpable. And after all, the United States, a great effort is being made, and I think that in fact being done very efficiently. You are trying to search, trying to look at all of the various indices, and trying to determine precisely, specifically, who is at the origin of this murdering folly, and once we found, and of course, France will stand with the United States.

AMANPOUR: The United States president has described this as an attack, basically a battle between good and evil, and that the United States will win this battle, and the good will eventually triumph. Do you see it in those terms?

CHIRAC (through translator): I have no doubt for single moment that terrorism, which is always based on fanaticism, blindness and madness, terrorism certainly does represent in today's world evil, and of course, we must win over it with a greatest of energy.

AMANPOUR: Do you see this, Mr. President, as a clash of civilizations, of not just an attack on the United States or on democracies, but something even more profound?

CHIRAC (through translator): I will talk about shock to civilization, because after all, it would mean that a certain type of civilization could adopt terrorism as a means, as a normal, natural means of expression, as a kind of culture. I don't want to envisage that anyone, any human being organized within a civilization could adopt such a stance. And so, therefore, I believe that terrorism rarely represents the action of results of certain civilizations. And so, therefore, I believe it's got to be considered as being an aberration, an aberration that's gotten to be removed from worldwide civilization, which, of course, has to respect human rights. AMANPOUR: You and other world leaders, including, of course, the United States, have described what happened here as a monumental atrocity. But of course, many people in some parts of the world have said that this is an attack on elements of U.S. foreign policy. It's no secret that France has sometimes been at odds with the U.S. over aspects of foreign policy. Will that cause any obstacles to you and to France as you consider joining a coalition and taking any measures that the United States and allies deem necessary?

CHIRAC (through translator): Well, one doesn't necessarily have to be always in agreement on everything, because after all, that's a typical characteristic in all families, and we're talking about international family, as all families.

However, on the other hand, there's one area where there can be no difference of opinion, where there can be no divergence, and that is the need to fight against this perverse illness, this vice which is terrorism, represents in terrorism, and of course in that area, there is absolutely no divergence with regard to France, with regard to the attitude of all civilized countries. Whatever their religious, economic, their philosophical backgrounds of the United States.

AMANPOUR: Mr. President, one final question.

CHIRAC (through translator): And in fact I also think that almost all...

AMANPOUR: Do you believe that...

CHIRAC (through translator): Yes, I am listening.

AMANPOUR: ... military response will be necessary, that this act of terrorism has forced the hand of not only the United States, but the rest of the allies and democracies, who have said that they must stand united against this?

CHIRAC (through translator): The United States was targeted, has been targeted, and the United States has been the first victim of this phenomenon, in which the whole world in fact is involved. The United States is the first victim, and so it's for the United States, and it's what the United States is doing to determine from when comes this attack. And, then, when that has been done, then the necessary things will have to be done to try to eradicate this evil and, of course, France will certainly be at its side. The means that will be deployed by the Americans, well, it's not the need to prejudge that; it's up to the United States to decide that.

But what I can say to you is that so far as eradicating terrorism, as far as fighting against terrorism, France, as I am sure most countries throughout the world, we will only show solidarity to the Americans.

AMANPOUR: President Jacques Chirac of France, thank you very much for joining us on CNN TODAY.

HARRIS: All right, thank you very much, Christiane Amanpour, with the live interview with French President Jacques Chirac.



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