Paris President Bush and French President Jacques Chirac pledged Saturday to work together to help rebuild Iraq, but they continued to remain at odds, as Chirac called the situation "extremely precarious" while Bush claimed major progress toward a free and democratic country.
The leaders sought to emphasize their common ground as they prepared to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, one of the moments when the United States and France were closest.
During a joint news conference, Chirac said he was pleased that the "tyrannical regime" of Saddam Hussein was over, but added, "What's less positive is that there is a degree of chaos prevailing."
The French president again took issue with Bush's justification for the invasion of Iraq, which Bush often compares to the liberation of Europe 60 years ago. "History does not repeat itself, and it is very difficult to compare historical situations that differ," Chirac said.
Bush said he appreciated the discussions with Chirac and took a conciliatory tone.
"The Iraqi people want and deserve freedom, peace and prosperity, and the nations of the world have a responsibility to help them achieve that," Bush said. "Members of the U.N. Security Council are working with Iraq's new leaders toward a new resolution that will express international support for Iraq's interim government, that will reaffirm the world's security commitment to the Iraqi nation, and encourage other U.N. members to help in joining the Iraqi people as they establish a representative government."
As a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, France could veto any resolution on Iraq. Chirac pointedly withheld his endorsement of an emerging draft resolution to be presented to the U.N. Security Council that formalizes international recognition of the new interim Iraqi government. But at their private dinner, Chirac told Bush that he believed the Security Council eventually would adopt the final language of the resolution unanimously, according to a senior Bush administration official.
Chirac at the news conference took issue with reports about a deterioration of the U.S.-French alliance, saying that "some comments don't reflect reality."
But the United States is estranged from many Europeans, who increasingly see the United States as militaristic and bullying overseas and puritanical and materialistic at home.