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US sends belated condolences to France after Chirac death

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People lookl at the coffin of former French President Jacques Chirac lying in state during a memorial ceremony at the Saint-Louis-des-Invalides cathedral at the Invalides memorial complex in central Paris on Sept 29, 2019.

[WASHINGTON] US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday sent belated condolences to France following the death of former president Jacques Chirac, who passed away last week.

"Having dedicated his life to public service, former President Chirac worked tirelessly to uphold the values and ideals that we share with France," Mr Pompeo said in a statement.

He recalled how Chirac described the US, where he'd studied and worked in the 1950s, as "a country that I love, that I admire, that I respect, and that I know rather well."

"We will never forget that President Chirac was the first head of state to travel to the United States after the horrible attacks of September 11, 2001," Mr Pompeo said.

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"The United States and France have stood side-by-side to promote democracy and peace around the globe, an enduring relationship that continues today."

Left unsaid was Chirac's opposition to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

France's refusal to participate in that war led to tension between Paris and Washington that lasted for several years.

Mr Pompeo's statement was the US government's first after Chirac, who was in office from 1995 to 2007, died on Thursday at 86 years old.

Former US president George W. Bush, the architect of the invasion of Iraq, has also not spoken on Chirac's passing.

Former president Bill Clinton, Mr Bush's immediate predecessor, praised Chirac as a "a bold, skilled statesman" following his death.

The White House said on Sunday that ambassador to France Jamie McCourt will represent the US at a memorial service set for Monday.

About 30 heads of state, including Russian leader Vladimir Putin, are expected in Paris for the ceremony.

AFP