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Mitterrand Seeks To Calm Dispute Over German Participation

March 20, 1994

PARIS (AP) _ France is weighing how to recognize French-German cooperation while celebrating the 50th anniversary of D-Day, President Francois Mitterrand said Sunday.

Mitterrand said German Chancellor Helmut Kohl never asked to be invited to the June 6 ceremonies. Mitterrand tried to minimize reports of a rift between the two countries.

″I maintain friendly and constructive relations with the chancellor and the German government. So we have not been involved in the polemics that have taken place over the commemoration of the Allied invasion,″ Mitterrand said in an interview with Agence France-Presse.

″I am considering with the prime minister the best way to go about celebrating the 50th anniversary and at the same time mark today’s cooperation that is unprecedented in history.″

Fifteen heads of state, including President Clinton and Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, are to take part in the June ceremonies.

Some German politicans have said Kohl should have been invited in recognition of the close alliance between France and Germany. The mayor of Caen, where the celebration will be held, is pressing for Kohl’s participation in evening festivities at the city’s Peace Memorial.

A poll published last week suggests that a majority of French approve of German government representation at the D-Day ceremonies.

In what appears to be a slow change of heart, French Veterans Minister Philippe Mestre said no ″definite decision″ has been made about Kohl’s attendance at the peace commemoration.

The ceremonies will mark the Allies’ landing on the beaches of Normandy, which turned the tide of World War II and led to the surrender of Nazi Germany 11 months later.

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