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U.S., French Defense Leaders Meet at Pentagon

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 10, 2005 – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld hosted a meeting with French Defense Minister Michelle Alliot-Marie today at the Pentagon, the third in as many months.

The French minister came to Washington in January to meet with the U.S. defense secretary before the U.S. presidential inauguration. Rumsfeld went to Nice, France, for the NATO Summit in February, and the French defense minister came back here today.

At the meetings, the two defense leaders discussed the various ways the French and American militaries are working together around the world.

"Our coalition certainly appreciates the close cooperation of France in Afghanistan," Rumsfeld said during a Pentagon news conference following today's meeting. "In recent years our countries ... and our militaries have cooperated not only in Central Asia, but in the Horn of Africa, Bosnia, Haiti, on the proliferation security initiative and of course, most recently, with respect to our common interest to have Syrian forces to leave Lebanon."

Both sides did their best to bridge the chasm caused by a differing assessment of the threat Iraq posed to world peace in March 2003.

"We do share a lot of things and agree on many elements," said Alliot-Marie through an interpreter today at the Pentagon. "That doesn't mean we agree on everything, but that is the spice of life, isn't it?

"And in the event that we have these little disagreements, then we can reconcile," she continued.

The French minister said she believes it's important for U.S. and French defense leaders to meet regularly. This would allow the two countries to share their assessments of the "common risks that are facing us -- be it in the war on terror, the problem of proliferation and the many crises where our soldiers are standing next to one another and fighting for us," she said through a translator.

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Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld

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