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Evian's diplomatic waters.

Byline: The Register-Guard

Their session together Monday in the French town of Evian didn't completely heal the rift between President Bush and French President Jacques Chirac. It couldn't, because the two leaders have such vastly differing views of the world - and, most especially, of the U.S.-led war in Iraq. But the gathering of the leaders of the Group of Eight nations provided the opportunity for Bush and Chirac to begin repairing the rupture that the war in Iraq caused. That's a positive development that should be applauded worldwide.

Yet differences between Bush and Chirac remain, and they may be unbridgeable. Chirac is the most vocal of European Union leaders in asserting Europe's role as a counterweight to the United States - a role that unavoidably implies conflict. But even if France and the United States are destined to disagree on some important matters, they have a strong mutual interest in cooperating on others. Disputes among allies are to be expected, and should not produce lasting enmity or harsh reprisals.

While the spotlight was on the friendly Bush-Chirac photo-op on a terrace overlooking Lake Geneva, the real story out of Evian was the strong stand the G-8 countries - France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Britain, Japan, Russia and the United States - took against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. A joint statement called such proliferation, especially to countries such as Iran and North Korea, "the pre-eminent threat to international security." The statement stressed that the world community has "a range of tools available to tackle this threat," such as "international treaty regimes [and] inspection mechanisms."

Fortunately for world peace, the Bush administration has insisted that the nuclear threat posed by North Korea can be dealt with through negotiations. But the administration hasn't said the same thing about Iran.

The meeting in Evian also provided another dividend: It allowed Bush - and, by extension, the nation he leads - to recapture, at least to a degree, the spirit of international cooperation that this administration, more than any in recent memory, seemed to have abandoned for a go-it-alone stance on world affairs.

Besides nuclear proliferation, the summit participants also focused on the world economy, global trade, clean water and food assistance to impoverished countries. If the meeting did portend a more cooperative attitude on the part of the United States, the Evian summit will have been a huge success.

And now, for President Bush, it's on to Egypt and a meeting with Arab leaders and, later, with Palestinian and Israeli leaders against a backdrop of wariness - bred out of the war with Iraq - toward the United States. If achievable, peace between the Israelis and Palestinians and a curb on nuclear proliferation, far more than the public warmth toward each other exhibited by Bush and Chirac, would be the lasting story of the president's trip.

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Bush, Chirac have friendly get-together
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Title Annotation:Bush, Chirac have friendly get-together; Editorials
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jun 4, 2003
Words:474
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