Dominique de Villepin speaks at a press conference Wednesday.
A Disassociated Press Report, Paris, June 2, 2005
By Orlando Barthes
Newly-appointed French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin responded today to remarks made yesterday by U.S. President George W. Bush regarding the Priory of Sion. Bush had called upon the French government to act swiftly against the Priory, which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization.
"It would be difficult for us to assist the Americans in this recent effort," De Villepin said during a press conference. "There are various reasons for this, but the main one is that the Priory doesn't exist."
De Villepin insisted the Priory of Sion was a hoax promulgated in France during the last century, and that there has never been any credible evidence of a real Priory of Sion.
"That this organization which doesn't exist is also a serious threat to our security is, well, it is not really worth discussing," De Villepin said in what appeared a direct affront to the Bush administration.
When asked by a CNN journalist whether or not he had read Dan Brown's novel, De Villepin said that he had not and that he had no intention of reading it.
"You must understand that I am a French prime minister," he said. "I read Malraux, Proust, Montaigne. I'm not going to read this trash coming out of America."
De Villepin at first refused to address the U.S. president's remarks on the Mona Lisa, but later said that of the many conspiracy theories that have been spun around the painting the current Administration's theory is certainly the stupidest.
President Bush had implied that the Mona Lisa that hung in the Louvre museum in Paris was obviously a fake that had been modified by the Priory.
De Villepin played down the importance of any fallout that may come as a result of French and American disagreements over the Priory.
"We consider the alliance between America and us to be as strong as ever," De Villepin said. "This difference of opinions on the Priory of Sion is certainly something we can learn to live with."
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