Franco-US 'misunderstanding' is over

19th September 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 19 (AFP) - The "misunderstanding" that has clouded Franco-US relations for the past three years is "behind us," the American ambassador to Paris told a Sunday newspaper here.

PARIS, Sept 19 (AFP) - The "misunderstanding" that has clouded Franco-US relations for the past three years is "behind us," the American ambassador to Paris told a Sunday newspaper here.

"There was a misunderstanding with France and the French," Craig Stapleton told Le Journal du Dimanche in remarks published in French, adding that he was "sure that all that is behind us."

"It is true that our two governments have economic and political disagreements, but the coordination and work done together have helped overcome the differences," he told the weekly, noting the French offer of aid to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.

France and the United States "have the same values and the same interests," said the envoy, who took up his post in July.

French President Jacques Chirac led international opposition to the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

The French side sounded a similar theme Monday.

France-US military relations have returned to the level of cooperation seen before the falling-out over the Iraq war, said the chief-of-staff of France's defence forces.

"Our military ties have remained strong and many, independently of the political turbulence of the past three years," General Henri Bentegeat told journalists at the US ambassador's residence here after recently returning from a visit to Washington.

"This visit allowed me to officially resume relations that never ended but which now have gone back to the level of before the Iraq crisis," Bentegeat said.

Bentegeat admitted that, because of the friction between Paris and Washington, previous military meetings between top commanders from the two countries had been "reduced in visibility".

But he said his trip "in a visible and official way put an end to all questions that some people might have about the nature, level and depth of our reciprocal ties on a military level."

Speaking alongside US ambassador Craig Stapleton and the US commander of Allied Forces in Europe, General James Jones, Bentegeat said that French and US military personnel worked side by side in several theatres, notably Kosovo, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Afghanistan and on the high seas.

US authorities, he said, wanted to see continued and improved interoperability between the two countries' defence forces.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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