Chirac, speaking at Majlis, the Saudi parliament, on Sunday called for "cultivating all opportunities for dialogue to avoid misunderstandings", and for "redoubling attention and efforts to preserve peace".

Chirac, on an official visit to Saudi Arabia, was the first foreign leader to address the non-elected parliament.

Riyadh and Paris "can unite their efforts to thwart those who, in fanning the flames of fanaticism, provoke a sad clash of ignorance concealed as a clash of civilisations".

Chirac also insisted on the need to "respect the diversity of peoples, faiths and cultures" and to "link ourselves to values of tolerance".

"More than ever, we should affirm the universal values that provide the basis for our common existence," he said.

Chirac urged mobilisation against the terrorist threat in Saudi Arabia.

"France is united with the kingdom in its battle against this blight that no country is safe from," Chirac said. "We will win this fight by uniting our efforts and conducting them with the respect of law and our values."