Fewer than 50 percent of French people think France has a moral debt to the United States 60 years after the Allied D-Day landings, according to an opinion poll published on Saturday.
The poll of 1,000 people on May 25 and 26 showed 48 percent of respondents thought France, which was liberated by U.S. and other Allied forces during World War Two, had a moral debt to the United States. Fifty percent thought it did not.
The poll was published by Le Parisien newspaper hours before U.S. President George W. Bush was due to arrive in France for the anniversary of the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944. It also showed growing French criticism of the United States.
Forty-four percent of people polled were critical of the United States, up from 36 percent in a similar poll in March 2003 and compared to 34 percent in October 2000.
A further 29 percent of respondents said they were worried by the United States in the poll published on Saturday.
U.S.-French relations have soured since France bitterly opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq and because of differences over a draft United Nations resolution on the future of Iraq for which Bush is seeking French backing.
Bush was due to hold talks with French President Jacques Chirac later on Saturday. Both leaders want the talks to help improve relations between their countries.