U.S. President George Bush and French President Nicholas Sarkozy met Saturday for informal talks on the war in Iraq and uranium enrichment in Iran. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, the French leader was a guest at the Bush family home in the Northeast state of Maine.
There was no official agenda for the hamburger-and-hot-dog picnic at the Bush estate on Walker's Point. It was a social lunch at the invitation of the First Lady who met the Sarkozys at the G8 Summit in Germany two months ago.
But the two leaders did meet for nearly an hour in talks that included efforts at the United Nations to stop Iran from enriching uranium. On Iraq, Mr. Bush is hoping for a better relationship with the new French leader than he had with former President Jacques Chirac who blocked a U.N. resolution on the eve of the U.S. invasion.
Welcoming President Sarkozy to his parent's seaside vacation home, President Bush says past disputes about Iraq do not obstruct progress on other fronts including Lebanon and Sudan. "We have had disagreements on Iraq in particular but I've never allowed disagreements to not find other ways to work together," he said.
President Sarkozy calls the United States a longtime friend who he admires for trying to spread freedom around the world. He says France is friends with democracies not dictatorships. "Do we agree on everything? No. Because even within the family there are disagreements but we are still of the same family and we may be friends and not agree on everything but we are friends nevertheless. That's the truth," he said.
President Bush says he appreciates President Sarkozy's involvement in freeing Bulgarian nurses held in Libya over charges of spreading AIDS. He says he is impressed with the French leader's vision and candor. "The good thing about President Sarkozy is you know where he stands. He'll tell you exactly what he thinks and I hope he'd say the same thing about me," he said.
French First Lady Cecilia Sarkozy telephoned Mrs. Bush Saturday to say that she and her children had sore throats and would not be attending the lunch. President Sarkozy came on his own for a meal that included corn-on-the-cob, baked beans, and blueberry pie.
The Sarkozy family is vacationing in the neighboring state of New Hampshire. Mr. and Mrs. Bush return to the White House Sunday before leaving Monday for their Texas ranch.