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United States Sees Room for Greater Cooperation with France

07 May 2007

President Bush scheduled to meet with President Sarkozy in June at G8 Summit

Washington -- The Bush administration said it looks forward to working with French President-elect Nicholas Sarkozy and officials expressed confidence that the United States and France, despite policy differences on Iraq, will be able to cooperate on many issues.

White House press secretary Tony Snow said May 7 that President Bush had telephoned Sarkozy the previous day to offer congratulations and his hopes for close relations between the two countries. The two leaders will have their first meeting in June at the Group of Eight (G8) Summit in Germany.

“Despite some frictions, we continued to work closely with France on a number of important issues during President [Jacques] Chirac's government, and we certainly look forward to cooperation with the French,” Snow said, adding there are “certainly real opportunities to work together on a broad range of issues." The U.S. decision to take military action in Iraq in March 2003 caused bilateral tensions between France and the United States.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said frictions over the military intervention in Iraq have been “put … in the past,” and the two countries have been working very closely on issues such as Lebanon, Afghanistan, and missile defense, as well as efforts to combat terrorism and promote nuclear nonproliferation.

France’s efforts with the four other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany (the P5 + 1) against Iran’s nuclear program “has been a model for how we would like to work with others,” McCormack added. (See related article.)

As Sarkozy outlines his foreign policy agenda, “I'm sure that there are going to be areas where we're able to work very closely together,” he said.

The French president-elect was last in Washington in September 2006 and met with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

“They had a good meeting. They had a good conversation and developed, I think, a good relationship,” McCormack said.

The spokesman said the United States and France also share “deep cultural ties,” and referred to former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s humorous observation that the two countries “have had a marriage of 200 years, and we've been in marriage counseling for much of that.”

In a May 3 interactive chat on the State Department’s Web site, U.S. Ambassador to France Craig R. Stapleton said although France sometimes disagrees with U.S. policies, the country is considered “a key international partner and ally.”

The bilateral relationship is “in much better shape and on much firmer ground than a casual glance at our occasional moments of less-than-perfect harmony would indicate,” he said.

“Our economies are intertwined, as are our future destinies. We share the same fundamental values, and have the same fundamental goal of spreading prosperity, democracy, and the rule of law throughout the world.”

Stapleton said “[m]uch more unites America and France as citizens of the world than divides us.”

A transcript of Stapleton’s webchat is available on the State Department Web site.

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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