While President Bush and French President Jacques Chirac used their joint news conference Saturday evening to underscore areas of common interest -- from fighting terrorism to tackling AIDS and hunger in Africa -- the differences exposed by their dispute over the Iraq war appeared likely to persist, underscoring the divergent world views of the two leaders and their countries in the post-Cold War era, analysts said.
"The disagreement goes very deep," said Philippe Moreau-Defarges of the French Institute for International Relations, a research organization. "Something has changed forever. The world has changed, and the U.S. position in the world has changed."
For the moment, however, with the commemoration of the D-Day landing as a backdrop, both Bush and Chirac had reason to put aside their differences and recall an earlier time of shared sacrifice.
"There's a common interest," said Guillaume Parmentier, director of the French Center on the United States. "The Americans badly need a resolution. The French recognize very well that if Iraq collapses, it will be a disaster not only for the Muslim and Arab world, but also for Europe."
The Iraq war and the U.S.-led occupation remain deeply unpopular in France, as in most European countries, as evidenced by a large demonstration in the streets of Paris. Fearing unrest, the government imposed tight security on the capital and prevented protesters from marching near the center of the city.
While cities across the Normandy coast began the first ceremonies Saturday to mark the D-Day anniversary, protesters in Paris carried a more ambiguous message, saying they respected the sacrifices the United States made 60 years ago but opposed the Bush administration's occupation of Iraq.
"I will be in the beaches tomorrow celebrating and supporting America's involvement in liberation and Normandy, but I am here today demonstrating against George Bush, because the American army must leave Iraq and allow the U.N. coalition to do its job," said Helene Luc, a Communist Party senator from the Val-de-Marne district.
Many here also emphatically rejected Bush's repeated comparison of the acts of U.S. soldiers 60 years ago with the military campaign in Iraq.
"I am here to condemn the occupation of Iraq," said Abu Mohammed, 43, a Moroccan immigrant who attended the protest. "I think the liberation of 1944 was justified, but this is not the same circumstance. There is a big difference between the two, and it mustn't be confused."
But in Normandy, sentiments about Iraq appeared to be outweighed by deep feelings of gratitude for what happened six decades ago, particularly among those old enough to remember firsthand.
At the U.S. military cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, on a bluff overlooking Omaha Beach, Bernard Tranquard, 65, a slim and frail retired doctor, sat solemnly facing the more than 9,000 American graves marked with white crosses and Stars of David.
"I come every 10 years because I am grateful to the Americans for what they did," Tranquard said. "I was 5 years old when American troops came and liberated La Rochelle from the Germans in August 1944. I remember how happy everyone was when they came. They were offering us Coca-Cola and cigarettes . . . well, not to me, I was too young. They gave me chocolate instead."
In Sainte-Mere-Eglise, the first French town to be liberated by the Americans, the atmosphere was festive. Beer flowed freely from scores of kegs dotting the streets, smoke billowed from street barbecues and hundreds of former soldiers sported World War II-era military uniforms. On the streets and in open squares, retired American GIs mingled with visitors and residents.
"Even if I have different views on Iraq, that does not stop me from receiving American GIs and visitors with open arms," said Joelle Delfortrie, 52, a native of Sainte-Marie-Eglise.
The D-Day ceremonies Saturday included a reenactment of the 1944 parachute drop behind German lines, on the bluff overlooking the beaches; a flotilla with tens of thousands of veterans sailing across the English Channel; a flyover by vintage wartime aircraft; and the release of a million poppy flowers into the sea.
Britain's Prince Charles visited veterans at Pegasus Bridge, the first strategic objective seized by British commandos from the Germans shortly after midnight on June 6, 1944.
Special correspondents Pan Yuk in Normandy and Maria Gabriella Bonetti in Paris contributed to this report.