Despite once-bitter differences over the Iraq war, President Bush (search) invited German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (search) to the White House for a meeting and a working lunch on Feb. 27.

A White House statement Friday made no mention of Iraq and referred to Germany as a long-standing ally.

"As a major contributor to the effort to bring peace and democracy to Afghanistan, Germany has led the way in expanding NATO's international security assistance beyond Kabul," the statement said. "Germany is a key partner in forging closer U.S.-European political and economic relations."

Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac (search) vigorously opposed U.S. efforts to win U.N. support for the war against Iraq. After the war, Germany and France were outraged that they were excluded, along with other opponents of the war, from bidding on Iraqi reconstruction projects