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Voice of the Daily Mirror: Heal French rift or face a bleak future.

IT WAS a very personal gift, an attempt to kiss and make up after their terrible row earlier this year.

But the presentation to President Chirac of a picture of little Leo Blair backfired.

The delighted French leader proudly displayed it to the cameras, to the consternation of Downing Street.

They clearly thought Mr Chirac was invading the privacy of the PM's son.

That wasn't the lowest point of this mini summit, though. Tony Blair tried to build bridges with the French President, but there is still too much bad blood over the Iraq war.

Everyone knows how hard it is to heal a rift between neighbours, and so it is proving with Britain and France.

President Chirac led the demands for there to be no military action against Iraq without United Nations backing.

For that he was savagely attacked by Mr Blair - even though more Britons agreed with the French view than with their own Prime Minister's.

Both leaders need to do a lot more to heal

the gap between them. Yesterday was only

a tiny step towards each other.

Even if President Chirac gives the picture of Leo pride of place on his mantelpiece, it won't disguise the divide.

Yet we need to get on with our nearest neighbours. That would put us at the heart of a strong Europe.

The alternative is to be a bit-player and hanger-on to American might.

That is no future for this country.
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Title Annotation:Leader
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 25, 2003
Words:241
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