"No sanctions on France" says Bush

Ahead of a visit to Europe US President George W Bush has said he does not intend to let his disappointment with France's stand on the war against Iraq dominate future dealings with the country.

    US President George W Bush
    "looking forward to working with

    Bush's remarks came on the eve of his departure for the G8 summit in Evian, France, and later to the Middle East for talks with the Palestinian and Israeli leaderships.

    "I am looking forward to work with France to achieve common objectives," Bush said prior to his departure Friday.

    Asked whether he was still angry at French President Jacques Chirac, and would seek sanctions against France, Bush replied: "No, no. No sanctions - I'm not mad. I mean, I'm disappointed, and the American people are disappointed. But now is the time to move forward."

    Chirac's opposition to the Iraq war, including a threat to veto a second UN resolution explicitly authorising military action, enraged officials in Washington, who have privately and publicly said there would be consequences.

    "Let us be realistic," said Bush. "There is a sense of frustration and disappointment among the American people towards the French decision" not to support the war against Iraq.

    Some businesses in the United States have been boycotting French goods in a bid to show solidarity with their government and disapproval of French foreign policy.

    French President Jacques Chirac
    was the most outspoken critic 
    of the war on Iraq

    Bush told the French TV network France 3 that there were a lot of issues that "we can work together on."  He cited the fight against AIDS in Africa and lauded France's help in the 'war on terrorism'.

    Bush is scheduled to have a bilateral meeting with Chirac in Evian, where the French president is hosting the 1-3 June summit of seven major industrialised nations plus Russia.

    "I will have a good discussion with Jacques Chirac and with others that did not necessarily agree with our Iraq policy," said Bush.

    Bush and Chirac have not come face-to-face since the war in Iraq, though they have spoken on the telephone.

    "I have work to do to convince sceptics in France that the intentions of the United States are positive," said Bush, "and the French leadership has work to do to convince the American people that they are concerned about the security of our country."

    The US leader will leave the G8 summit early in order to travel to Egypt for a summit with Arab leaders, including his first meeting with Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas, and to Jordan for separate and joint meetings with Abbas and the Israeli PM Ariel Sharon.


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