FACTBOX: Taking the chill off U.S.-French relations

(Reuters) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit to the United States on Tuesday and Wednesday for a White House dinner and talks with President George W. Bush is another sign of warming ties between Washington and Paris.

Following are some facts about the U.S.-French relationship:

* Bush had a tepid relationship with former French President Jacques Chirac, who kept his distance from the U.S. leader.

* Relations turned frostier after Chirac’s outspoken opposition to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

* Indignant Americans were prompted to rename French fries “freedom fries” and to boycott products such as French cheese.

* Sarkozy, who was elected president in May, visited Bush at his father’s oceanfront estate in Kennebunkport, Maine, in August, where the two shared an informal lunch.

* Sarkozy has been criticized at home for taking his first vacation as president in the United States, and mocked for activities like jogging, which is seen as a U.S. pastime.

* Sarkozy has shown a greater willingness than Chirac to put pressure on Iran over its nuclear program. The United States and its European allies are trying to persuade Iran to halt its nuclear enrichment work because of suspicions that Tehran is trying to acquire a nuclear weapon.

Writing by Paul Grant