Former French President Jacques Chirac died on Thursday at the age of 86, AFP reported. His son-in-law Frederic Salat-Baroux said Chirac died in the morning “surrounded by his family, peacefully”.

Chirac was president from 1995 to 2007, and was the second longest-serving post-World War II president after his predecessor Francois Mitterrand. He also served as mayor of Paris for 18 years and as a prime minister twice.

The National Assembly interrupted a sitting to hold a minute’s silence. President Emmanuel Macron cancelled a public engagement and scheduled a televised address later on Thursday.

Chirac was defiant in his opposition to the United States-led invasion of Iraq. “War is always a last resort,” he had said. “It is always proof of failure. It is always the worst of solutions, because it brings death and misery.”

Chirac was also the only western leader who supported India after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government conducted a nuclear test in 1998. He called India’s exclusion from the global nuclear order as an anomaly that needed to be rectified.

Chirac was found guilty in December 2012 of abusing public funds as Paris mayor and was given a two-year suspended prison sentence.

Chirac was born in 1932 in Paris. He studied at the Sciences Po university and ENA civil service academy, and served as an army officer. By 1967, he had become a junior minister and was just 41 when he became prime minister in 1974.

In his final years, he suffered from neurological problems and was rarely seen in public.

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