WASHINGTON – President Bush's relations with France (search) and Germany (search) are improving because he realizes that while the United States can fight wars alone, it needs European allies to bring peace to Iraq, the French ambassador said Friday.
"The style has changed dramatically," Ambassador Jean-David Levitte said at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
The president has extended a "hand of friendship to France and Germany," he said. The successful elections in Iraq also helped improve the climate, Levitte added.
"In the first term President Bush (search) was convinced he could go to war alone, but he needs allies in Europe for peacemaking," the diplomat said.
France opposed Bush on war with Iraq two years ago. Without ruling out war entirely, France wanted to give U.N. international inspectors more time to look for weapons.
Germany opposed the war flatly. The United States found some allies in Europe, Spain, Italy and Poland, among them, and the administration called the U.S.-led force a "coalition of the willing." (search)
The weapons that Bush used as the biggest reason for invading Iraq and overthrowing President Saddam Hussein were never found after the fighting stopped.
France continues to decline to provide troops for the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, but has offered to train Iraqi security forces in France or Qatar.
Levitte also complimented the administration for deciding to support Britain, France and Germany in offering Iran spare parts for civilian aircraft and improved trade as incentives to halt its nuclear weapons program.
It was a policy shift by Bush. "Now we have a boost from the United States," Levitte said.
However, he indicated the negotiations with Iran were not going well. Levitte called the talks "the difficult negotiations I have ever seen in my 24 years" as a French diplomat.
Depending on the outcome, the Bush administration has reserved the option of asking the U.N. Security Council to punish Iraq with economic sanctions. To succeed, however, the administration would have to gain France's support, at least to the extent of not vetoing a U.S. resolution.