Chirac also questioned the significance of a letter sent yesterday by Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi to the United Nations Security Council suggesting how the Iraqi interim government would interact with the U.S.-led coalition troops that are providing security for the nation.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, briefing reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Paris, described the letter as a potential breakthrough in removing some French objections to a U.N. Security Council resolution on sovereignty for Iraq that was crafted by the United States and Britain.
"The French have not yet seen the letter," Powell said. "But I think they will find it very responsive."
Chirac was cool to the letter, insisting that the relationship between the interim government and coalition forces must be incorporated into the language of the resolution.
"What is important is to ensure that the Iraqi people, that the Iraqis truly have the sense that they have recovered their independence, their sovereignty, and that they hold their own destiny in their hands," he said.
Bush and Chirac started out with niceties. Bush called France a "beautiful country" that he was proud to visit to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy.
Chirac said he was "happy to welcome the U.S. President warmly" and expressed gratitude for U.S. sacrifices and "the blood they spilled" in liberating Europe.
But the warm, chummy feeling seemed to fade when the two began answering reporters' questions. Chirac said Bush's comparison of the liberation of Europe to the liberation of Iraq did not work.
"I fully understand what led President Bush to establish or make this comparison," he said. "And I think, nonetheless, that history does not repeat itself, and it is very difficult to compare historical situations that differ, because history is not repetitive."
Chirac said it was good that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was gone. "What's less positive is that there is a degree of chaos prevailing."
Contact reporter William Douglas at 202-383-6026 or email@example.com.