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Ex-French President Chirac, who stood up to U.S., dies at 86

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By Associated Press  with NBC News World News
Image: France's President Jacques Chirac delivers a speech as he presides o
France's President Jacques Chirac delivers a speech as he presides over a French citizen naturalization ceremony in Tours, France, June 29, 2006.   -   Copyright  Philippe Wojazer

PARIS (AP) — Jacques Chirac, a two-term French president who was the first leader to acknowledge France's role in the Holocaust and defiantly opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, has died at age 86.

His son-in-law Frederic Salat-Baroux told The Associated Press that Chirac died Thursday "peacefully, among his loved ones." He did not give a cause of death, though Chirac had had repeated health problems since leaving office in 2007.

Chirac was long the standard-bearer of France's conservative right, and mayor of Paris for nearly two decades. He was nicknamed "Le Bulldozer" early in his career for his determination and ambition. As president from 1995-2007 he was a consummate global diplomat but failed to reform the economy or defuse tensions between police and minority youths that exploded into riots across France in 2005.

France's National Assembly held a minute's silence on Thursday in memory of Chirac.