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France: U.S. a 'vital ally'

From CNN Correspondent Jim Bittermann

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France will not make a "one-way compromise" Barnier says.
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PARIS, France (CNN) -- The French foreign minister has called for "a new trans-Atlantic relationship" between the United States and its European allies.

Too many challenges face the world for the two not to work together in addressing them, Michel Barnier told CNN, but said France will not bow to the will of the United States.

"We are allies. Alliance is not submission."

"We have to work together in the broader sense, and probably in what I call a new trans-Atlantic relationship, and get in the habit to talk more to each other -- even when we don't agree, because that happens -- to talk more about politics," he said Wednesday.

Relations between France and the United States took a blow after the two disagreed over the war in Iraq.

The "French-bashing" that followed the disagreement may have hurt U.S.-French ties, Barnier said.

"It's not fair to ridicule France. France and the U.S. are friends and allies in the world, in history, since the beginning. Once again, alliance is not submission and we can disagree on certain subjects.

"We didn't agree on Iraq. Frankly ... I say and repeat that President (Jacques) Chirac's state of mind and my own is to look ahead and not in the rear-view mirror."

Asked whether the French are willing to compromise, Barnier said, "The French can change and the Americans can change.

"A discussion should be something frank, direct, lucid, where each one can make an effort. ... I heard my colleague Condoleezza Rice say to the Senate herself that the American administration will use more multilateral dialogue in diplomacy rather than unilateral talk."

But, he said, France will not make a "one-way compromise."

"The U.S. can't be alone to face the challenge of terrorism, poverty, development, instability in the world -- we need to be together," Barnier said.

"And why are we allies? We're allies to face that together.

"I think American people are lucid, realistic and pragmatic. We have to see that the alliance between Europeans and Americans is vital, and it should serve peace, freedom and democracy."


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