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Bush Hosts French President for Casual Lunch


U.S. President George Bush and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have acknowledged that their countries have differences, but both said that should not keep them from having good relations with one another.

Mr. Sarkozy visited Mr. Bush Saturday at the Bush family vacation home in the northeastern state of Maine. Mr. Sarkozy's family is vacationing in the state of New Hampshire, which is in the same region.

Mr. Bush said the two men would have what he called a "heart-to-heart" talk on issues of mutual interest. Mr. Sarkozy said even though the two countries have disagreements, they are in the same family.

This was a getting-to-know-you visit, the leaders' most lengthy meeting since Mr. Sarkozy became French president in May. The casual picnic was originally to include Mr. Sarkozy's wife Cecilia and their children, but they declined to attend Saturday because of illness.

White House officials say the lunch marks the beginning of a new era in relations between the two countries. That relationship had suffered under previous French President Jacques Chirac because of disagreements on the Iraq War, climate changes and other matters.

Mr. Sarkozy made a quick trip home Friday to attend the funeral in Paris of Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, the retired archbishop of Paris. He then returned to the United States for the meeting with Mr. Bush.

The French president is meeting privately with the extended Bush family, including former President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara.

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