Relations between France and the United States have been damaged by France's stance against a US-led war on Iraq, but will not fall apart, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said.

 

He similarly expressed confidence over the future of both the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

 

"There has been some damage done, no doubt about that," he said, in an interview with the BBC.  Powell was equally sanguine about prospects for NATO and the United Nations, which have been split by differences over the Iraqi war

 

Powell: hopeful of making
up with France

"NATO is not going to go away. The UN is not going to fall apart," Powell said. He noted that there had been disagreements between the United States and other allies in the past, and joked: "The US and France have been married ... for 225 years and we have been in marriage counselling for all of the 225 years."

  

"But the fact is we do many things together in a cooperative spirit," he added. "We are strong partners in the NATO alliance and in the (UN) Security Council."

  

US President George W. Bush said on Thursday that French President Jacques Chirac would not be welcome to his Texas ranch "any time soon", but also expressed hope that bilateral tensions over Iraq would eventually subside.

  

The two leaders are due to meet in June at a G8 summit in France, in the resort town of Evian near the Swiss border. Powell told the BBC that he was in no doubt that weapons of mass destruction would eventually be found in Iraq.

  

"We've got an exploration team in the country now ... and this exploration team has found documents and has had interesting interviews," Powell said, referring to a 1,000-strong team deployed by the United States in Iraq.