WASHINGTON – President Bush and French President Jacques Chirac agreed Tuesday that they don't want Syria to become a safe haven for members of Saddam Hussein's regime.
The two, who also discussed the G-8 meeting scheduled for France this summer, spoke by telephone for about 20 minutes, the first time in two months that they exchanged words directly. About half the length of the conversation was taken up by interpreters.
U.S. officials say the conversation was "professional and businesslike."
Chirac is said to have told the president that France will adopt a "pragmatic approach" to postwar Iraq and would like the United Nations to get involved as soon as possible.
France led the opposition to the war in Iraq, which inspired an anti-French backlash in the United States. The alienation was heightened when French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin delayed saying that he hoped the coalition would win the war.
Chirac, who initiated the call, also offered condolences to the president for the loss of coalition servicemen and women in the fighting. Acknowledging the loss, Bush responded that "a liberated Iraq will be better off than otherwise would have been the case."
Fox News' Wendell Goler and Jim Angle contributed to this report.