French president visits U.S. to discuss relations

Sunday, August 12, 2007
President Bush, left, greets French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the home of former President George H.W. Bush Saturday, Aug. 11, 2007, in Kennebunkport, Maine. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine -- President Bush welcomed French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Saturday for a "heart-to-heart" talk on world issues and to repair relations with France.

"We have had disagreements on Iraq in particular," Bush said as the French president arrived at the seaside vacation home of Bush's parents. "But I've never allowed disagreements to not find other ways to work together."

Bush said the two would also talk for 45 minutes on world issues, including Iran, where he wants Sarkozy's aid in halting Iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapon.

"We'll have a heart-to-heart talk," Bush said. "We'll be talking about a lot of key issues. The good thing about President Sarkozy is you know where he stands. He can tell you exactly what he thinks. I hope he'd say the same thing about me."

The French president had his own warm words, part of an overt attempt by the leaders of both countries to warm their nations' chilled relations. Sarkozy called the United States a longtime friend, one he admires for trying to spread freedom around the world.

President Bush greeted French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Saturday in Kennebunkport, Maine. (Evan Vucci ~ Associated Press)

"France is friends with democracies, not with dictatorships," Sarkozy said.

"Do we agree on everything? No," he said, an apparent reference to the divisive Iraq war. "Because even in family, there are disagreements. But we are still the same family."

Aides emphasized that the meeting was not viewed as a summit, but a social meal between two world leaders who happen to be vacationing near each other in New England.

In France, Sarkozy caused a considerable stir by opting to be in the United States for his first extended vacation as president. He chose Lake Winnipesaukee in Wolfeboro, N.H., about 50 miles from the rocky shores of the Bush compound known as Walker's Point. Sarkozy said he wanted to see the real America -- small towns and tranquility.

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