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Chirac Not to Seek Third Presidential Term
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French President Jacques Chirac announced in a televised address Sunday night that he would not seek a third presidential term.

This came after long expectation by French media for Chirac to clarify whether he will be among contestants for this year's presidential elections.

Chirac urged French people to stay true to their values. "Never have trucks with extremism, racism, anti-Semitism or the rejection of others. In our own history, extremism has already nearly brought us to the abyss," he said.

"France is not a country like others. It has particular responsibilities, the legacy of its history and the universal values which it helped create," Chirac said. "Facing the risk of the clash of civilizations, facing the rise of extremism, notably religious extremism, France must defend tolerance, dialogue and respect," he added.

Chirac, 74, has repeatedly answered the question of whether he would seek re-election by saying that he would make his decision during the first quarter of 2007.

Elected president in 1995, Chirac has been in the presidential palace for 12 years, five years of which he spent in cohabitation with former socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.

Chirac's activities on the diplomatic front, notably France saying "no" to the Iraqi war, his commitment to the environment protection and solidarity with countries from the South, has won him the respect and admiration from different corners of the world, according to observers.

(Xinhua News Agency March 12, 2007)

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