WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President George W. Bush said that French President Jacques Chirac won't soon be welcome to his Texas ranch even if bilateral tensions over Iraq eventually melt away.
"I doubt he'll be coming to the ranch any time soon," Bush told NBC television, a reference to his beloved "Prairie Chapel" property, a coveted invitation extended only to a handful of world leaders.
Bush and Chirac fell out over Paris'stated determination to bury a new UN Security Council resolution authorizing military action against Iraq, which inflamed anti-French sentiment in the United States.
"There are some strains in the relationship, obviously, because it appeared to some in our administration and our country that the French position was anti-American," the US leader said.
"Hopefully, the past tensions will subside and the French won't be using their position within Europe to create alliances against the United States, or Britain or Spain or any of the new countries that are the new democracies in Europe," he added.
Earlier, the White House moved to quash rumors that Bush would snub Chirac by overnighting in Switzerland during the June summit of wealthy nations, to be held in the eastern France spa resort of Evian.
"The president will be overnighting in France. There were never plans for him to overnight anywhere else," said Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer, denying a New York Times report.
White House officials who requested anonymity offered contradictory accounts, with one saying that Bush had planned to land in Switzerland and stay there through the gathering, to be held in the French resort town of Evian.
That official, who was privately very critical of France for its opposition to the war in Iraq, said that the decision was driven purely by logistics and was in no way intended as a symbolic show of disapproval.
Another aide, more familiar with White House travel plans, confirmed Fleischer's comments, citing months-old tentative schedules as calling for Bush to make a brief stop in Switzerland on his way to France, where he would stay for the summit.
The spokesman's remarks came days after top US officials met at the White House to decide how to respond to Paris' diplomatic efforts to avert US-led military action to disarm and topple Saddam Hussein.
France's role in the crisis has left a bitter taste in many Americans' mouths, prompting boycotts of French wine and leading US lawmakers to rename "French fries" as "Freedom fries" and Bush's Air Force One airplane to serve "Freedom Toast" in lieu of "French toast."
FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. NoNonsense English offers this material non-commercially for research and educational purposes. I believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner, i.e. the media service or newspaper which first published the article online and which is indicated at the top of the article unless otherwise specified.