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France's political class unites to honour Jacques Chirac at funeral service

Jacques Chirac's coffin, draped in the French flag. Photograph:( Reuters )

AFP Paris, France Sep 30, 2019, 08.18 PM (IST)

World leaders, past and present, stood in silence in Paris on Monday at a funeral service for Jacques Chirac, the French leader remembered at home for his folksy charisma and abroad for opposing the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

France's Emmanuel Macron, Russia's Vladimir Putin and former US president Bill Clinton were among the mourners in the aisles of the Saint Sulpice church for the mass in memory of Chirac, who died last week aged 86.

Chirac's coffin, draped in the French flag, rested at the front of the church after having been driven in a procession escorted by police motorcyclists along streets lined by thousands of Parisians.

Chirac, who served as president from 1995 to 2007, was feted by many French people for asserting their country's role as a global player, a stance that put him at odds with Washington over the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Chirac was from his earliest years a member of the French establishment, but he also had a knack for connecting with ordinary people outside the urban elite. A court conviction after he left office for misusing public funds did little to tarnish his image.

"Peace is what we ask for on this emotional day of farewell, which touches all of France together," Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit told the roughly 2,000 people gathered in the church.

Chirac's widow Bernadette was absent from the funeral mass because of frail health, the archbishop said.
 

Story highlights

Chirac was from his earliest years a member of the French establishment, but he also had a knack for connecting with ordinary people outside the urban elite. A court conviction after he left office for misusing public funds did little to tarnish his image