Sarkozy Charms Congress, Steers Clear of Iraq; American Democracy Praised

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 8, 2007 | Go to article overview

Sarkozy Charms Congress, Steers Clear of Iraq; American Democracy Praised


Byline: David R. Sands and Jon Ward, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

French President Nicolas Sarkozy yesterday continued his charm offensive in the United States with an address to a joint session of Congress proclaiming the strength of the Franco-American alliance and effusively praising American values, culture, economic vitality and democracy.

"What made America great was her ability to transform her own dream into hope for all mankind," Mr. Sarkozy told a packed House chamber. The 40-minute speech, delivered in French, was interrupted by applause more than two dozen times and inspired at least six standing ovations.

The French leader played it safe in his remarks to Congress, making only passing reference to the war in Iraq while working in comments about George Washington, Martin Luther King, U.S. troops killed in World War I and World War II, the Apollo 11 astronauts, the victims of September 11, Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe.

Mr. Sarkozy then left Capitol Hill to meet with President Bush at the Northern Virginia estate of the nation's first president, George Washington.

The leaders and their top advisers met in the Mount Vernon mansion, then spoke with reporters in an elaborately staged, albeit brief, outdoor press conference, where they heaped praise upon each other.

"I have a partner in peace," Mr. Bush said of his counterpart. He called Mr. Sarkozy a leader "who has clear vision, basic values, who is willing to take tough positions to achieve peace."

Mr. Sarkozy said he and his delegation had been "welcomed so warmly with so much friendship, so much love," and pronounced himself "deeply moved."

The historical setting served as a prop for one of Mr. Sarkozy's favorite messages - that a stronger Franco-American alliance should be built on the link between the two countries that goes back to the Revolutionary War.

France opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the dispute poisoned relations under Mr. Bush and French President Jacques Chirac. …

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