Ever since the United States fought for its independence, the French have been a friend through thick and thin. But sometimes, Secretary of State Colin Powell said Wednesday, they have annoyed him.

"And I am sure that from time to time, I have annoyed them," Powell said in an interview with a talk radio show host.

Asked if he had ever told French officials that, Powell replied: "Oh yes, yeah."

The secretary of state said he had good relations with Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin (search), and they have had "the most candid and direct conversations about what we do that anhe French were adamant that it was not something we should do and they fought to see if they could avoid the war."

Powell said he told de Villepin that if the United Nations did not deal with the situation in Iraq under Saddam Hussein (search), then President Bush would.

"And we did," Powell said in the interview with WPHT-AM in Philadelphia.

Since the war, Powell said that France, Germany and other critics of the invasion are trying to help with reconstruction and improving Iraqis' lives.

"But we have had our disagreements with the French," he said. "The French are proud people that have strong views about things from time to time."

Last week, in a speech in Washington, French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie criticized "certain radical, neoconservative (search) ideas" in the United States as harmful to U.S. relations with Europe. She singled out what she called American aspirations for economic supremacy as well as assertions of cultural and political supremacy.

She did not identify whom she held responsible for asserting such views. "It is essential we recognize others' positions" as part of a trans-Atlantic discourse, she said.

During the speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (search), a private research group, Alliot-Marie emphasized that Europeans had "a different sensibility" than the United States toward the Arab-Muslim world.