Bush gives Barnier rare treat of a chat

3rd May 2005, Comments 0 comments

WASHINGTON, May 2 (AFP) - President George W. Bush unexpectedly invited visiting French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier to his office Monday to discuss a wide range of international issues, from Iran's controversial nuclear program to the Middle East peace process.

WASHINGTON, May 2 (AFP) - President George W. Bush unexpectedly invited visiting French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier to his office Monday to discuss a wide range of international issues, from Iran's controversial nuclear program to the Middle East peace process.  

Barnier was scheduled to meet with Bush's national security adviser, Steve Hadley, at the White House, but ended up in the president's office.  

"Knowing that I came to see one of his advisers, Mr. Bush wished to welcome me to his office for a meeting that was not planned," Barnier told reporters after his 30-minute meeting with Bush.  

The chief French diplomat said the two had "cordial and direct" discussions "on all the issues in which we have worked together."  

Barnier said he discussed with Bush the Middle East peace process and Lebanon. Paris and Washington teamed up to pressure Syria into withdrawing its troops from Lebanon.  

He also talked about the "difficult and fragile" talks that Britain, France and Germany are conducting with Iran aimed at easing international fears that Tehran is seeking a nuclear bomb.  

Barnier, who was on his second visit to Washington since Bush was re-elected in November, also met with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the next World Bank president, Paul Wolfowitz.  

The US leader usually does not receive foreign ministers in his office.  

Franco-American relations deteriorated over Paris' strong opposition to the US-led war in Iraq in 2003, but both nations have since said they have overcome their differences. The two long-time allies have since cooperated on several international issues, particularly in Lebanon.

 

© AFP

Subject: French News

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