French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin gave a long interview with the Financial Times last Friday, although it was just published today. Among other things, he addresses his political future, Sarkozy's campaign, and Segolene Royal.
You are the first sitting prime minister in many years to not run for president. Why are you not standing in this year’s election?
...I want to govern until the last day in the service of French people. There is an election coming up, that is a different matter. My choice is to serve as prime minister and assume my responsibilities.
How will you support the campaign of your party’s candidate, Mr Sarkozy?
The situation of my political family is a bit unusual today, as there is a candidate chosen by the UMP party and at the same time the president of the republic has not announced his decision. I am Jacques Chirac’s prime minister, so I will wait for the president to declare his intentions. It is the least I can do, in my position, to let the president decide in total serenity and liberty. We will see....
Is France ready for a woman president?
We are a country that today is totally focused on equal opportunities. There is no blockage of any kind. What French people want is the best president for France. The best prepared and trained and able to give the best answers. I do not think that being a woman is neither an obstacle nor an advantage. (Looks like someone forgot to fix the double negative)
Villepin also mentioned his views on Iraq, which include a schedule for withdrawal of American forces.
I am not saying foreign troops must leave tomorrow. I am saying we need to build a schedule that says on what date foreign troops will leave and from that date we start a turnround, organising a national, regional and international schedule. If you do not say that in one year there will be no more American or British troops in Iraq, nothing will happen in Iraq except more deaths and crises. Why? Because no one is taking responsibility and even some people are fuelling the crisis.
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