Bush, Sarkozy to visit home of first US president

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WASHINGTON, Oct 19 (Reuters) French President Nicolas Sarkozy's two-day visit next month with US President George W Bush will include a formal dinner and a trip to the home of the first US president, the White House said today.

The leaders will go to Mt Vernon, the mansion just south of the US capital that was home to George Washington for more than 45 years. The venue will conjure the ties between the two countries that date back more than two centuries to France's support for the United States during the Revolutionary War against England.

Bush will also host Sarkozy at an official dinner at the White House during the Nov. 6-7 visit.

Bush's meeting with the French president comes just a few days before he is to host German Chancellor Angela Merkel at his Texas ranch.

The Sarkozy visit was another sign of warming of ties between Washington and Paris since Sarkozy was elected five months ago. By contrast, Bush had a chilly relationship with former French President Jacques Chirac, an outspoken critic of the Iraq war.

Sarkozy has shown a greater willingness than Chirac to put pressure on Iran over its nuclear program, an issue that is sure to come up in the talks between Bush and the French leader.

Sarkozy also visited Bush at his father's oceanfront estate in Kennebunkport, Maine in August, where the two shared an informal lunch.

The White House offered details on Sarkozy's visit a day after his aides announced that the French president and his wife, Cecilia, had divorced after 11 years of marriage.

REUTERS RSA RAI2223

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