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Will Bush forgive and forget?

From John King
CNN Senior White House Correspondent


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WASHINGTON (CNN) On the eve of a trip to Europe to attend the G-8 summit, no one is expecting the U.S. president to just forgive and forget.

Bush will find himself face to face in France with leaders who strongly opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Ahead of his trip Bush told a French television network: "I'm disappointed, and the American people are disappointed, but now is the time to move forward."

The atmosphere may well be frosty before any olive branches are held out.

"I don't think you will need air conditioning, notwithstanding the fact that its going to be a June summit," Sandy Berger, former Clinton National Security Advisor, said.

"I am sure the room will be nicely chilled."

The main event -- in France -- is the annual Group of Eight summit that will put Bush in the same room as the leaders of France, Russia and Germany, who all fiercely opposed the war.

The White House insists Bush is not one to dwell on the past but also insists he is not to blame for the bad blood.

"The president understands honest policy differences," National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice said Thursday.

"No one understands if things take on an anti-American tinge."

Those who stand with Bush get invites to his Crawford, Texas ranch, and the red carpet treatment at the White House.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Philippines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo have all been welcomed in recent weeks.

Those who oppose him, however, get the cold shoulder.

Other than a little small talk at the NATO summit in November, Bush has not spoken at length to German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder for more than a year.

"There's been a deliberate and systematic effort to convey to countries around the world, friends and foes, that if they cross the United States there's a price to pay," Berger says.

President Jacques Chirac of France is the summit host. Bush has planned a brief courtesy call, but not an extended invite, and a ranch invite is unlikely.

"Well, we are very pleased to see President Bush coming to Evian. He will receive the best hospitality and he will decide when he wants to reciprocate," the French ambassador to the U.S. has said.

Making amends with Russia is more of a White House priority in part because Moscow is critical in the coming debates over Iran and North Korea.

But some see a personal message here as well.

"During the war and the period leading up to the war, Putin was very clever," Berger says.

"He let his Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov make the tough statements and basically Putin stayed in the background."

Senior Bush aides reject the notion these disputes are personal, and say it's not the president's style to hold a grudge.

Yet these aides also say Bush is not about to forget, and they insist it is not his responsibility to take the first step toward mending fences.


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