The Atlanta chapter of the French-American Chamber of Commerce seeks to reassert itself as relations between France and the United States begin to thaw in the aftermath of the war in Iraq, according to Denys Gounot, the chamber’s recently elected president.

          “The emotional crisis should not prevent the business relations from going forward,” Mr. Gounot told GlobalFax during a telephone interview last week. “Our economies are so closely intertwined, you just can’t overlook another part of yourself.”

          Despite these ties with many U.S. companies operating in France and vice versa, Mr. Gounot said that the local French chamber must become more active to overcome the current ill will and strengthen the positive relations that already exist between the two countries.

          He is hoping that supporters of improved relations between France and the U.S. will turn out at the annual Passport to France, a fund raising gala to be held on Saturday, June 7, that will feature the south of France.

          “The French chamber is one of the oldest chambers in Atlanta and a Passport to France has been held every year since the chamber was formed 18 years ago,” he said. “It is a major event in Atlanta. This year, by featuring the south of France, we want to emphasize the links with the South of the United States as well.”

          He also encouraged representatives of local companies to become involved because of the developing ties that the state of Georgia is promoting with France.

          Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism officials led business and industry recruiters on a tour of the French cities of Lyon, Paris and Toulouse earlier this year. Delegations from these cities are expected to reciprocate with visits to Georgia as soon as this summer.

          In addition, Mr. Gounot cited the upcoming visit by Jean David Levitte, France’s ambassador to the U.S., to Atlanta the week of May 19, as further evidence of France’s desire to continue promoting ties with the Southeast. The French Consulate General and the chamber are to organize a luncheon for the ambassador on Thursday, May 22.

          The cost of attending the Passport black tie gala that will be held at the Cobb Galleria Center is $75 per person. Corporate tables of 10 cost $700. For more information or to reserve places call (770) 351-1540 or send an email to  HYPERLINK