The French government plans to send a delegation here for the first time for informal talks on efforts to combat terrorism, according to a State Department official.
Such informal discussions, organized by the State Department's Office for Counterterrorism, are often the first step toward more specialized seminars offered through the office's Antiterrorism Training Assistance Program, said the official, who asked not to be named.
The initial meeting is planned for the end of June.
In April, France refused to grant the United States overflight privileges for its air strike against Libya.
At the seven-nation economic summit in Tokyo three weeks later, however, France joined the other summit countries in agreeing to act together to isolate the sponsors of terrorism, with Libya the main target under discussion.
"This is an indication of the potential for better communications," said the official. "It's encouraging. I don't know yet how far they want to go. They're not necessarily going to look at our training facilities."
The French Embassy would not comment on the reported visit.
American officials have met previously in France to discuss antiterrorism -- including a January visit by Deputy Secretary of State John C. Whitehead and Robert B. Oakley, director of the counterterrorism office. The advantage of holding meetings in Washington, the official said, is that it gives the visiting delegation "a chance to meet a wider range of American officials."
The scheduled meeting here may be a further indication that France, stung by a series of bombings in Paris and the kidnaping of a French television crew in Beirut, is taking a less guarded stance on multilateral cooperation, the official said.
Still, the subject remains touchy. "On this specific matter we have always been very discreet," said Guy de la Chevalerie, a French Embassy spokesman.