PARIS – French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder condemned the grisly killing of an American in Iraq by extremists who said they were seeking revenge for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners.
Schroeder expressed outrage at the death of Nicholas Berg (search), who was shown in video earlier this week being decapitated, and said nothing justified the 26-year-old civilian's execution.
"I can well imagine how the American public, how the parents of this young man are reacting to it. There can be no question that we stand by the side of our friends in solidarity," Schroeder said Thursday.
Chirac called the killing of Berg, from suburban Philadelphia, "a horror ... an unimaginable act."
Berg's captors said they were acting to avenge the humiliating treatment and physical abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. guards at the Abu Ghraib prison (search) outside Baghdad. The incidents drew worldwide condemnation when photographs of the mistreatment were broadcast and published in the news media.
Meanwhile, Schroeder, in what appeared to be his first remarks on the prisoner abuse scandal, praised the swift American response to the allegations in bringing the guilty to justice.
"It speaks to the strength of American democracy how they have immediately started getting to the bottom of this," he said. "That deserves a place in how we judge America if we're fair, which we should be. One can't have indulgence for torture but cannot forget the other aspect."
The two leaders also said their governments were working closely to come up with a U.N. Security Council resolution to endorse the caretaker government that United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi (search) is trying to create.
The government is to take power from the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council on June 30.
On that date, the council will be dissolved on June 30 and a caretaker government with a prime minister, a president and two vice presidents will oversee Iraq until national elections by the end of January 2005, according to Brahimi's plan.
Schroeder said there was not yet an agreement on a U.N. resolution.
"You will see that there will be a joint position, should there be such a resolution," Schroeder said. "In the current situation, what is really important is to make Mr. Brahimi's mission a success and, once that has happened, the individual formulations of the resolution will be on the table and there will be, as agreed, very very close consultation between France and Germany."
"As far as the date is concerned," he said. "It has been defined and we assume it can be reached: June 30."