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Allen, friend of France

New York, June 11 (Reuters): Film director Woody Allen, known for his fierce devotion to New York, is working as a pitch man for France, urging Americans to eat french fries, to French kiss and travel to the European nation.

In a French tourism promotion video, Allen, whose movies are enormously popular in France, says it is time to put behind them the animosity over France’s opposition to the US invasion of Iraq, which soured the long-standing relationship.

“Recently there has been a lot of controversy between the two countries, and I would hope that now the two countries could put all that behind them and start to build on what really has been a great, great friendship,” he said in the video, called Let’s Fall in Love Again.

The tourism board is playing the video at lunches for travel journalists across America, hoping to boost the number of Americans traveling to France, down 15 per cent in the first three months of 2003, from a year ago.

American resentment of the French stand was reflected in many ways, with some calling for a boycott of French wine and cheese and some restaurants renaming French fries “freedom fries”.

Allen, who has worked with the French tourist office before, said he doesn’t want to refer to his French-fried potatoes as “freedom fries.” “And I don’t have to ‘Freedom kiss’ my wife when what I really want to do is French kiss her,” Allen added.

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