France's Chirac hints he will not stand for third presidential term

French President Jacques Chirac still isn't saying whether he is running for re-election in two months but he has acknowledged that he is thinking about "life after politics."

Chirac's comments, reported by French media Thursday, were noncommittal but suggested he won't run for a third term. His office insisted the comments revealed nothing of his presidential intentions.

Chirac who is widely expected to bow out but has consistently refused to say whether he intends to run in the two-round elections in April and May mused about a post-presidential existence during the taping of a televised interview to be aired Sunday.

"There is life after politics," Chirac said, according to Le Parisien daily. "There is life until death."

The 74-year-old leader also defended his record, saying he has "always tried to act for the French people."

"If I did not have any more responsibilities of that nature, well, I would try to serve France in another way," he is quoted as saying.

Chirac, a fixture of the French political scene for more than four decades, has made a point of keeping speculation about his presidential intentions alive. He says only that he will announce whether or not he will run after Feb. 19.

The taped interview is part of a three-hour-long program on First Lady Bernadette Chirac, to air on French television on Sunday.

In the interview, Bernadette Chirac appeared to confirm her husband's long career in politics is drawing to a close.

"The fall is a bit sad," she said, adding she would miss the presidential Elysee Palace, where she and her husband have lived since 1995.

"We must accept that which destiny has decided," she is quoted as saying in Le Parisien, reports AP.

Officials in Chirac's office said the questions asked during the interview were "timeless."

"The president's response did not in fact give any information about his decision which he will make, as he has always said, at the right moment," said an official on customary condition of anonymity.

Few observers expect the aging leader to make a presidential run particularly since Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, 52, was formally anointed the ruling conservative UMP party's presidential candidate last month.

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