Europe: Chirac pledge to Quebec

Lucien Bouchard, Quebec's Prime Minister, said yesterday that President Jacques Chirac would recognise the province's independence if it voted in a referendum to secede.

"President Chirac told me France would go along with any choice which Quebec made democratically," Mr Bouchard said after meeting the French president.

Mr Chirac's spokeswoman, Catherine Colonna, confirmed the statement. But she said that French policy remained one of "no interference, but no indifference"

Quebec separatists lost the last referendum on the province's sovereignty by a razor-thin margin in October 1995.