- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 12, 2007

KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine — President Bush and recently elected French President Nicolas Sarkozy yesterday heralded their newly formed partnership during a visit by the French leader to the Bush family’s seaside vacation home.

“Obviously, there’s been disagreements, but just because you have disagreements doesn’t mean you can’t have good relations,” Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Sarkozy, in the U.S. for the first time as head of state, echoed Mr. Bush, saying that “even within a family there are still disagreements, but we are still a family.”

Disagreement, in fact, looked to be an afterthought as Mr. Bush warmly greeted Mr. Sarkozy, and the two men headed off for a private meeting, then lunch and boating.

Mr. Sarkozy’s visit, and also his determination to make it to the Bush family estate at Walker’s Point despite scheduling challenges, marks a new chapter in U.S.-French relations.

Former French President Jacques Chirac clashed often with Mr. Bush, especially over the Iraq war.

Mr. Sarkozy, said Mr. Bush, was “bringing good will.”

“This is a complicated world, and there are a lot of opportunities to bring peace,” Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Bush said he and Mr. Sarkozy would “absolutely” talk about Iran, which is thought to be pursuing nuclear weapons in defiance of the United Nations.

The president and first lady Laura Bush, along with Mr. Bush’s parents — former President George Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush — welcomed Mr. Sarkozy at the Bush estate in the cool air and bright sun.

Mr. Sarkozy arrived by himself in blue jeans and a sport coat, after making a trans-Atlantic flight from the U.S. to France on Thursday evening for a funeral and then back to the U.S. Friday evening to meet with Mr. Bush.

Mr. Sarkozy vacationed all week in New Hampshire with his wife, Cecilia, and children, who were scheduled to come to the lunch but canceled after falling ill with sore throats.

The president’s father called Mr. Sarkozy’s efforts to make it back from France “amazing,” and a few of the senior Mr. Bush’s grandchildren held hand-drawn signs welcoming Mr. Sarkozy with greetings such as “Bienvenue, Mr. President.”

The leaders, joined by the senior Mr. Bush, spent about 50 minutes together talking privately.

Mr. Sarkozy then joined several members of the Bushes’ extended family for a lunch of hot dogs, hamburgers, corn on the cob and baked beans.

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