Paris and Washington spar over poor tax

PARIS, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- U.S.-French relations are again under strain in the United Nations, this time over a new proposal by French President Jacques Chirac for a global poverty tax.

The French leader, who tilted famously with U.S. President George W. Bush over Iraq last year, used the forum of the U.N. General Assembly to make his case for helping the world's dispossessed, according to French news reports,


Chirac's call for a global antipoverty tax was issued jointly with Brazilian president Luiz Inacio lula da Silva.

The Bush administration has reacted coolly to the new proposal, with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman calling global taxes "inherently undemocratic."

To which Chirac retorted at a news conference that it would be hard for the United States to go against an idea backed by the majority of nations.

"As strong as the Americans are, one doesn't oppose for the long haul and successfully a proposal that's already been approved by 110 nations, and will be by 150," the French president said, in remarks carried by Le Monde newspaper.

Particularly after the lessons the U.S. ostensibly learned in Iraq, Chirac added.

Pointedly, Bush and Chirac did not meet at the sidelines of the U.N. conference. According to France's Elysee presidential palace the leaders had scheduling conflicts.

But Le Parisien offered another version. "Chirac snubs Bush," the French newspaper wrote in its headline.

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