HANOVER, Germany – German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac underlined what they called a cohesive European stance against unilateral U.S. military action against Iraq, insisting that the United Nations must be involved.
Schroeder has come out hard in the past weeks against Washington's insistence for military action to remove Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, causing a strain in U.S.-German relations.
Speaking to reporters after receiving Chirac in his home for informal discussions late Saturday, Schroeder said the return of U.N. weapons inspectors to Baghdad was a top priority. He warned that military action could cause chaos in the Middle East.
"We must include powers in the region" in any action against Iraq, Schroeder said.
Chirac said that France was waiting for a decision by the U.N. Security Council before taking an official stance, stressing the importance of a cohesive European position.
"France considers a unilateral solution unacceptable," Chirac said.
Even as the two leaders were speaking in Germany, President Bush met with British Prime Minister Tony Blair at Camp David, and said there is ample evidence the Iraqi leader is developing weapons of mass destruction.
Bush is to address the Security Council about Iraq next week.
Blair has been more supportive of Bush's talk of a military attack than other European leaders who favor increased diplomatic efforts before taking action.
Foreign ministers Joschka Fischer from Germany and Dominique de Villepin of France were also present for the meeting in Schroeder's home, the seventh in a series of informal discussions between the two European countries.
After a meeting in late June, the two heads of state agreed to meet once a month in an attempt to maintain open communication.