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U.S. & France Prepare for G-8 Summit

Foreign ministers from the world’s leading industrialized nations met in Paris Friday for their annual meeting. VOA-TV’s Jim Bertel reports today’s talks are in preparation for next month’s G-8 summit in France.

When the leaders of the G-8 countries meet in two weeks, the reconstruction of Iraq, the war on terrorism and the Middle East peace process will dominate their agenda. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and his counterparts laid the groundwork for those discussions during talks Friday in the French capital.

Relations among the G-8 countries were badly damaged by the Iraq crisis, when Canada, France, Germany and Russia opposed the U.S. led war –while Britain, Italy and Japan supported it.

The G-8 talks took place following a breakfast meeting between Mr. Powell and French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin, their first meeting since the end of the war in Iraq. The French news agency quotes diplomatic sources who described the meeting as “friendly and frank.”

At a news conference following the G-8 discussions, Mr. Powell said the U.S. and France remain friends and allies.

“We have had a serious disagreement in recent months. We’re not going to paper it over and pretend it didn’t occur. It did occur. But we’re going to work our way through that. But we will always be pulled together by the strongest ties of common values.”

Mr. De Villepin said despite the differences, France is looking towards the future and the many challenging international issues that need to be worked on.