Tags: Bush: | Meeting | With | Chirac | Not | 'Disagreeable'

Bush: Meeting With Chirac Not 'Disagreeable'

Monday, 02 June 2003 12:00 AM

Bush said that Chirac's support for a U.N. resolution authorizing the rebuilding of Iraq meant that relations U.S.-French relations could move on from the war.

"When it became time to focus on a free Iraq, a healthy Iraq, a prosperous Iraq, we're in agreement," he said. Bush acknowledged that "there's a lot of people in both our countries who can wonder whether we can sit down and have a conversation together" but said the answer was "absolutely."

The president said Chirac "knows a lot" about the Middle East and said, "My country and I will put in as much time and effort as necessary to achieve the goal of two states living side by side in peace." Bush left the G8 meeting early to attend talks on the peace process.

On Sunday during the opening session of their annual summit, the leaders of the G8 nations attempted to overcome bitter divisions over Iraq and focus on the world economy and the problems of the developing world.

At a press conference that ended the first day of talks, Chirac tried to act conciliatory. The French president said he had no "concern or worry" about the state of American-French relations.

"We are working out possible solutions to the problems we face," he said.

He praised at length the president's plan to provide $15 billion for AIDS treatment and prevention programs over the next five years and stated that European Union nations should match the $1 billion U.S. contribution to the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Bush held one-on-one talks with Chirac today but will not meet alone with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Both of those European leaders opposed U.S. military action in Iraq, which has chilled relations with the Bush administration. The president delivered his main speech of the trip Saturday in an address to the Polish people in Krakow.

"You have not come all this way, through occupations and tyranny and brave uprisings, only to be told that you must now choose between Europe and America," he said.

He called for trans-Atlantic unity but warned that "aggression and evil intent must not be ignored or appeased; they must be opposed early and decisively."

John Kirton, director of the G8 Research Group at the University of Toronto, said that in a contrast with G8 summits on in the past, this time around the U.S. president has support from key allies Britain and Spain.

"At several points in past summits it has been the United States versus the rest of the G8," Kirton told CNSNews.com. "Bush is more of a multilateralist than people give him credit for, and the G8 is central to his vision."

Kirton recalled one of the key Democrat slogans during the 1992 election and said Bush prized the group's clout in economic matters.

"George Bush remembers the problem his dad had, namely, 'It's the economy, stupid,' He needs help from the outside ... the United States is currently the sole engine of economic growth."

Kirton said that the war on terror would also help to eventually push the United States and France together, because both are "on the front line of terror." He cautioned against reading too much into Bush's early departure from the summit.

"He's not going back to Crawford. He's going to help push for peace in the Middle East, and it's an important task that needs to be pushed forward," Kirton said.

Chirac backed up that point at the press conference when he appeared to support the president's early departure.

"Everyone was aware today how important it is that the road map progresses strongly towards peace," he said.

Meanwhile, relations with another anti-war country, Russia, seem to have already been patched up.

After talks in St. Petersburg in conjunction with that city's 300th anniversary,

Bush and Putin formally agreed to the ratification of a nuclear-arms treaty that pledges both countries to reduce their arsenals by two-thirds and discussed North Korea's nuclear program.

"The fundamentals between the United States and Russia turned out to be stronger than the forces and events that tested it," Putin said.

The French summit began under visibly high security because of terror threats, with all but the leaders and their official entourages banned from the summit's "red zone" inside Evian. In surrounding towns in France and Switzerland, anti-capitalist demonstrators clashed with police Sunday.

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Bush said that Chirac's support for a U.N. resolution authorizing the rebuilding of Iraq meant that relations U.S.-French relations could move on from the war. "When it became time to focus on a free Iraq, a healthy Iraq, a prosperous Iraq, we're in agreement," he said....
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Monday, 02 June 2003 12:00 AM
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