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Bush Hosts French President For Vacation Lunch


U.S. President George Bush will host French President Nicolas Sarkozy for a casual lunch at the Bush family's Atlantic coast compound in Maine today.

Mr. Bush and his wife Laura invited Mr. Sarkozy and his wife Cecilia for the get-together in Kennebunkport while the French couple spend their summer vacation in the neighboring state of New Hampshire.

A White House spokeswoman, Dana Perino said Friday the lunch is informal, but that the two leaders would likely talk about issues the two countries have cooperated on in the past, including Iran, Lebanon and Sudan.

White House officials say the lunch marks the beginning of a new era of relations between the two countries. Relations broke down under previous French President Jacques Chirac over disagreements on the Iraq War, climate changes and other matters.

Mr. Sarkozy won elections in May and promised to improve ties with the United States.

The French president returned home Friday to attend the funeral in Paris of Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, the retired archbishop of Paris. Mr. Sarkozy then prepared to head right back to the United States for the meeting with Mr. Bush.

The Sarkozys will meet privately with the extended Bush family, including former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara. The White House says President Bush may also invite the French president for a boat ride as he did with Russian President Vladimir Putin when he visited the Bush compound in July.

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