"It undermined the image of the West as a whole. It is time for the United States and Europe to regain together the respect and admiration of the other people."

'Iraqis future is in their hands'


He said that one key to stabilising Iraq would be convincing Iraqis that they control their future.


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"There may be times when preemptive warfare is necessary, but the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was not one of them."

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"We must be clear on a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops. I believe that it should take place within a year, during the year 2008," he said.


"This will allow Iraqis to feel that their future is in their hands and put them back on the path of national sovereignty."


US Congress, now under the control of the Democratic Party, has floated plans to withdraw combat forces from Iraq next year, though none has passed.


At the White House, George Bush, the US president, has ordered an additional 21,500 soldiers into combat in Iraq.


Villepin also said the United States and European powers need to work together to resolve other major regional crises including Iran's nuclear ambitions, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and instability in Lebanon.