French President Jacques Chirac and British Prime Minister Tony Blair maintained Thursday that relations between their countries were not strained by their disagreements over the Iraq war, as evidenced by their cooperation on a number of international issues.
The French leader said he was "taken aback" by some comments in the French press suggesting strains between the two countries.
"They do not reflect either my own beliefs and certainly not the British government's or our experience of Franco-British cooperation," Chirac said.
He called the Iraq war the "one and only" issue of sharp disagreement, adding: "Who is right or wrong, history will tell."
Chirac said the two leaders agreed on the necessity for action on economic development in Africa and on climate change.
Blair also played down any tensions, saying the countries have been cooperating on a number of issues.
In "Afghanistan, on the Balkans, on the question of Africa, on the question of climate change we are working very closely together. On the question of European defense, both on the defense level and the industrial level, we are working closely together," Blair said.
"And it is worth just pointing out that our armed forces have been engaged in cooperation together in many different parts of the world."
Chirac arrived at Blair's Downing Street office after reviewing a guard of honor to mark the start of his two-day visit.
The president will also enjoy the hospitality of Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle as the two countries celebrate the 100th anniversary of the "Entente Cordiale" — a historic pact ending centuries of warring and hostility.