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Nicolas Sarkozy to Barack Obama: je t'aime

July 25, 2008 |  2:26 pm


Love was in the air in Paris today.

The source? French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his "dear friend" Barack Obama. The pair traded lavish compliments at a joint press conference after meeting privately at the Elysee Palace.

"France is happy to welcome Barack Obama, first of all, because he's American and the French love the Americans," Sarkozy began, before adding that "the adventure of Barack Obama, it is a story which speaks to the heart of French people and speaks to the heart of Europeans." "I can't imagine somebody who better captures the enthusiasm and energy of France than" Sarkozy, Obama responded.

Later he assured the president that "the average American has enormous fondness for the French people." All of the niceties caused one reporter to ask the obvious: Was Sarkozy endorsing Obama? Obama quickly interjected. "I'm going to warn my dear friend President Sarkozy to be very careful about that ... question," the senator cautioned.

"It's the Americans who will choose their president, not me," Sarkozy said. But, in what was perhaps a dig at Republican candidate John McCain, he added: "Obviously, one is interested in a candidate that's looking toward the future rather than to the past." The pair also explained the origins of their friendship. Some excerpts:

Sarkozy: I am especially happy to be meeting with the senator. I met him back in 2006, when we talked in such impassioned terms about Darfur and what was happening there. And there were two of us in that office. And there were two of us in my office, and one of us became president. Well, let the other do likewise, huh? I mean, that's not meddling.

Obama: And I also want to say that I recall our meeting the first time. I don't know whether people are aware that, when President Sarkozy went to Washington, he wasn't yet elected as president.

He met with only two United States senators. That was me and John McCain. So I would suggest that, for the reporters in the room, if you want to know something about elections, you should talk to the president of France.

He seems to have a good nose for how things play out.... When he came as president now to speak, he was treated like a rock star. Everybody loved him. And I think it was after that that everybody decided to call french fries "french fries" again in the cafeteria.

-- Kate Linthicum

Photo Credit: Bloomberg News