French President Jacques Chirac, meeting with
President Clinton on the eve of a crucial Kosovo deadline,
expressed hope today that peace talks will succeed as pressure
mounted on Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic to reach a
|U.S. and French officials have said Clinton and Chirac also will
discuss NATO's 50th anniversary celebrations
Clinton and Chirac planned a joint news conference later in the
Welcoming Chirac, Clinton said the two leaders have a good
working relationship and a warm friendship.
"We have a lot of important things to discuss, especially the
situation in Kosovo but also the work we have been doing on
international financial matters," Clinton said
The French leader also referred to his friendship with Clinton
and their talks on Kosovo, where a midday Saturday deadline has
been set for the Serbs to reach an agreement with ethnic Albanians
who make up 90 percent of the province's population.
Chirac said, "I hope with all my heart that both sides will
understand that it is in their interest to find an agreement
because the side which does not understand then would have to bear
all the consequences, which would be serious for them and for their
This was a clear reference to Yugoslav leader Milosevic, who has
resisted an agreement because it would involve stationing NATO-led
peacekeepers in Kosovo.
Before meeting Clinton, Chirac held talks at Blair House with
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan on reforming the
international financial system. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and
his French counterpart, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, were joining their
respective leaders at lunch.
Chirac is seeking to assure Clinton that even though there are
disagreements between the two old allies on some issues, such as
Iraq, they can reconcile differences in other areas.
On Kosovo, if the Serbs are the cause of any snag, France is
prepared to support airstrikes against their military, French
France and the United States have made commitments to send up to
9,000 troops between them to the Serbian province to police a peace
U.S. and French officials have said Clinton and Chirac also will
discuss NATO's 50th anniversary celebrations in Washington in
April. France is concerned that if the meeting turns into a Cold
War victory party, it could anger Russia.
Clinton and Chirac also differ on defining a new strategy for
NATO operations outside the borders of member nations.
On Iraq, the two leaders agree President Saddam Hussein is
responsible for the situation the country finds itself in but
Chirac wants to lift the U.N. oil embargo, provided Baghdad agrees
to weapons inspections.