Tags: U.S. | France | Talk | Better | Ties | D-Day | Anniversary

U.S., France Talk of Better Ties on D-Day Anniversary

Wednesday, 06 June 2007 12:00 AM

NORMANDY -- The United States and France called on Wednesday for a closer friendship after years of strained relations over Iraq as they marked the 63rd anniversary of the D-Day invasion that broke the Nazi hold on Europe.

"Let the people of our nations never forget that we are bound by history and values just as we are bound by blood - the blood of Americans, the blood of Frenchmen," U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told a crowd of hundreds gathered at the Normandy American Cemetery in France.

French Defence Minister Herve Morin, a member of the new conservative government that has promised a revived friendship with Washington, said the alliance between the United States and France must transcend differences over policy.

"Mr. Secretary, since the end of World War II our countries quarrelled sometimes, but this feeling of union has always prevailed and in the future will have to prevail above all," Morin said at the memorial ceremony.

"This transatlantic alliance is still necessary at the dawn of the 21st Century," he said.

Washington and Paris have seen their long alliance strained due to France's vocal opposition to the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. But with the May election of conservative French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the Bush administration is hoping for improved ties.

Neither Gates nor Morin mentioned Iraq directly on Wednesday.

Under gray, wet skies, the two defence chiefs listened to a U.S. soldier recount the chaos of Normandy's beachfront on June 6, 1944. They then laid wreaths at the cemetery, where 9,387 service members are buried, and met with World War II veterans.

"We didn't expect by the time we got there that there would be any battle left for us," U.S. veteran, Walter Ehlers, told the silent crowd of his D-day crossing from England. "We were not prepared for the chaos and the disaster on the beach."

Gates, who hand writes personal notes every night to the families of each U.S. service member killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, broke away from the ceremony to walk alone through the vast cemetery marked with white crosses and stars of David.

"May God never let us forget what happened here," he said.

© reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.

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NORMANDY -- The United States and France called on Wednesday for a closer friendship after years of strained relations over Iraq as they marked the 63rd anniversary of the D-Day invasion that broke the Nazi hold on Europe. "Let the people of our nations never forget that...
U.S.,,France,Talk,Better,Ties,D-Day,Anniversary
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2007-00-06
Wednesday, 06 June 2007 12:00 AM
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