Bush, Chirac Downplay Discord at Conference
PARIS – President Bush (search) sought on Saturday to move beyond bitter differences with a Western ally, yet French President Jacques Chirac (search) said Iraq remains "extremely precarious" and he again questioned America's justification for the war.
On the eve of celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of D-Day, the two leaders highlighted areas of agreement, from Afghanistan to the Middle East, Haiti and Africa.
Citing the lesson of World War II, Bush said at a joint news conference, "Free nations working together can overcome danger."
Chirac sought to play down friction between Washington and Paris, and said his talks with Bush, which included the fight against terrorism, were "sincere" and "trusting."
He noted that the allies have, during the past two years, strengthen cooperation on anti-terrorism initiatives, including one to interdict weapons of mass destruction to keep them out of the hands of terrorists.
Chirac said he was happy that the "tyrannical regime of Saddam Hussein (search)" was no longer in power. But, he added, "What's less positive is that there is a degree of chaos prevailing."
Chirac withheld endorsing a new U.S. agreement with Iraq's interim government on the control of coalition troops after the June 30 handover of political power. The French leader said the agreement needs finishing touches, which he said could be accomplished soon.
Bush and Chirac both spoke of the American sacrifices to liberate France from Nazi tyranny 60 years ago.
At ceremonies on Sunday in Normandy (search), Chirac said he will tell Americans, "'France says thank you, and that France does not forget.'" Bush he expected it to be a "spectacular day."
Chirac said he understood why Bush has been comparing the Iraq war to the liberation of Europe in World War II (search), given this weekend's celebrations. But Chirac said "history does not repeat itself and it is very difficult to compare historical situations that differ because history is not repetitive."
The situation in Iraq "has to be contained and has to be mastered," Chirac said.
"There is a lot to be done. We are going to have to roll up our sleeves and put a lot of our heart and our mind into doing this and perhaps we will succeed," Chirac said.