US Congressmen in France friendship trip

17th February 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 16 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac on Monday welcomed a delegation of US lawmakers who were seeking to smooth transatlantic ties frayed over the Iraq war.

PARIS, Feb 16 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac on Monday welcomed a delegation of US lawmakers who were seeking to smooth transatlantic ties frayed over the Iraq war.

The group from the "Franco-American Friendship Caucus" was headed by a Republican congressman from New York, Amory Houghton, who acknowledged that "because of the Iraq situation, the relationship has soured - we have got to do something."

He added: "It's very important for the United States to reestablish our relationship as it was prior to 9/11 (the September 11 attacks) with France, and that's what we are doing."

Houghton started the group in October last year to counter the often vehement verbal attacks on France in the US Congress following the country's opposition to the US war in Iraq.

For his part, Chirac assured the delegation that "the solidarity and friendship of France and the United States are rooted in our history and in the future," according to his spokeswoman, Catherine Colonna.

She added that the meeting was very cordial and that the president felt the group was a "good initiative which will reinforce ties".

Before their meeting with Chirac, the US lawmakers met French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, who underlined that there was "clearly on both sides a will to find the right solutions for Iraq and for the international community," ministry spokesman Herve Ladsous said.

A Democratic member of the delegation, James Oberstar, joked that any outstanding differences would be resolved during the next Tour de France bicycle race, which has been won five times by Texan athlete Lance Armstrong."Lance Armstrong will be here to settle everything in July," he said.

© AFP

                                                              Subject: France news

0 Comments To This Article