Wednesday, February 26, 2003 at 1:00am

Jacques Chirac claims to be saddened by insinuations that he's anti-American. I really like the United States, the French president professed, in an interview published this week in Time magazine.

But just when those of us on this side of the Atlantic were prepared to give Monsieur le President the benefit of the doubt, were willing to accept that his opposition to U.S. efforts to disarm Iraq were based on high-minded principle rather than deep-seated animus, then he shot off his mouth after a meeting of the European Union in Brussels.

Leaders of the European Union's 15-member nations had gathered for an emergency summit and concluded their meeting with a joint statement warning Saddam Hussein's rogue regime that it must disarm

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