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Chirac turns 71, quietly

Dec. 1, 2003 at 10:23 AM

PARIS, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- French President Jacques Chirac turned 71 Monday, but celebrations were kept low-key rather than remind Frenchmen they are led by Europe's senior statesman.

Chirac, whose office has tried to dissuade French reporters from describing his new hearing aid, his contact lenses and his use of hair dye, made no announcement and the event passed barely noticed in the French media.

The French cabinet held a quiet and private lunch for Chirac.

At 71, Chirac is older than Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi (67), Germany Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (59) and Britain's Tony Blair (50).

"The problem isn't his (the President's) physical state, which seems pretty good, but more the state of his policies, which seem pretty poor," Francois Hollande, leader of France's Opposition Socialists, told France's Radio J Foreum show Monday.

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