France and US need to talk more, says Barnier
PARIS, Jan 10 (AFP) - French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier called Monday for a "new relationship" with the United States but warned that a better alliance did not mean allegiance.
Barnier, in an interview published in the International Herald Tribune, said he hoped to visit the United States “every three to four months” to meet with administration officials, members of Congress and others.
“We need more political dialogue – we need to talk more,” Barnier said.
US officials accuse France of blocking their bid to obtain full UN backing for the US-led occupation of Iraq, a campaign which Paris opposed.
Barnier said it was a “mistake, an error of analysis” for the Bush administration to try to divide the Continent into an “Old Europe,” principally France and Germany, and a new, more pro-American Europe including countries like Poland.
Stressing that the European bloc would continue to grow “whether it is pleasing or not,” Barnier said Washington should recognise that “the countries joining the European Union will progressively and inevitably have a European reflex.”
“Americans must understand that it is in their interest that Europe get organised and have an autonomy,” he said. “It’s the price to pay for an effective alliance. The alliance between Europeans and Americans must be balanced.”
Asked if an alliance with the US meant allegiance at moments of crisis like the Iraq war, he replied that “it is never allegiance”.
“An alliance is a partnership based on mutual respect.”
Barnier said France would support the January 30 elections in Iraq, which he said needed to be “as credible as possible” and sensitive to the Sunni minority.
He also urged US President George W. Bush to fulfil his “historic responsibility” in the post-Arafat Middle East, to bring Israelis and Palestinians to the negotiating table, ensure a successful Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and bring about talks based on the road map toward peace.
Subject: French News