Putin calls for end to attack, Chirac regrets US decision

20 March 2003
Russian President Putin in his first comment on US military action against Iraq said that the attacks could not be justified and called for them to end. Speaking to senior ministers in the Kremlin, Putin said: 'Military action can in no way be justified. Military action is a big political error.' Russia is the second permanent member of the UN Security Council to call for the attacks to stop. China condemned the attacks earlier in the day.

French President Jacques Chirac echoed earlier comments by his foreign minister on the US attack on Iraq, regretting Washington's decision to proceed without UN backing. However his focus was on humanitarian issues, and he said that the UN should take the lead in post-war reconstruction. 'It [the UN] is the only legitimate framework to build peace in Iraq as elsewhere,' Chirac said. 'We hope these operations will be as rapid and cause as few casualties as possible,' he said.

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