Chirac hosts Franco-Polish summit in Arras

28th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

ARRAS, France, Feb 28 (AFP) - Presidents Jacques Chirac and Aleksander Kwasniewski arrived in the northern French town of Arras early Monday for a first Franco-Polish summit aimed at refreshing ties strained by the Iraq war and other issues.

ARRAS, France, Feb 28 (AFP) - Presidents Jacques Chirac and Aleksander Kwasniewski arrived in the northern French town of Arras early Monday for a first Franco-Polish summit aimed at refreshing ties strained by the Iraq war and other issues.

Several hundred people were gathered in the main square in chilly but sunny weather to see the pomp and ceremony of the occasion.

The French and Polish national anthems played as the heads of state turned up, followed by several ministers.

Arras is situated in a region with a large Polish community, estimated at 500,000 people.

The meeting of the two presidents underlined the growing cohesion between states in the European Union - particularly between one of its biggest founding members, France, and its biggest new member, Poland.

The two countries - which fall on either side of the divide of "Old" and "New" Europe coined by US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld - have experienced a few disagreements, however.

They include Poland's contribution to the US-led military deployment in Iraq at a time when France was leading opposition to the occupation, and Poland's eagerness to win EU agricultural subsidies that have up to now benefited French farmers.

France's restrictions on Polish immigrants looking for work has also rankled Warsaw, and reports have also said that France, Britain and Germany are pressuring Poland to buy passenger planes from Airbus rather than from the US company Boeing.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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