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British press gives thumbs-up to Sarkozy

The British press gives French President Nicolas Sarkozy a thumb up for his performance during a two-day state visit to Britain. Read on...

world Updated: Mar 28, 2008 23:13 IST

The British press on Friday gave French President Nicolas Sarkozy a thumb up for his performance during a two-day state visit to Britain.

Some newspapers questioned, however, whether the seeming improvement in Anglo-French relations was a blip on the radar screen or a genuine warming between the two countries, which have often not been on the best of terms.

Sarkozy, whose trip concluded Thursday, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown vowed to turn their "entente cordiale" into an "entente amicale", referring to the 104-year-old "cordial relationship" that has been strained in recent years.

"Nicolas Sarkozy's whirlwind state visit to Britain arguably marks a new high in the Anglo-French relationship since the second world war," The Guardian's diplomatic editor Julian Borger wrote in a comment piece.

"The question now is: can it last, or is it -- despite the French president's protestations to the contrary -- just a 'one-night stand'."

Brown and Sarkozy agreed to boost cooperation on tackling climate change, securing peace in Darfur, Myanmar and the Middle East, called for "restraint and dialogue" in China over Tibet, and jointly said greater transparency was needed in the financial markets.

Sarkozy was also effusive in his praise of Britain's economy in a speech to business and finance leaders at London's Guildhall, praising the country's economic successes.

"Say what you like about the Sarkozys, they certainly made an impact," The Daily Mail said in an editorial.

"But what has been achieved, behind the flummery and inflated promises of a new Anglo-French love-in? ... An entente formidable? Let's wait and see."

For The Independent, a stronger relationship between the two countries offered an opportunity for Britain within the European Union, where Britain has often been a reluctant player.

"As the French President and his sizeable entourage left Britain last night, there will have been relief on both sides of the Channel that this state visit passed off as well as it did," the paper said in an editorial.
"If only a fraction of what M. Sarkozy said in Britain is true, however, there is a real opportunity here to be seized. The French President offered a coherent vision of Europe which Britain should have the imagination to support."

As energetic as Sarkozy's own diplomatic agenda was, however, it was his glamorous new wife, former Italian supermodel Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, who stole the show, wowing Britain and drawing comparisons to Princess Diana as well as Jackie Kennedy.

The Independent carried an article headlined: "Crazy for Carla: How Britain went mad for France's First Lady."

Of Bruni-Sarkozy, Daily Telegraph columnist Andrew Gimson wrote: "Was it all a dream? Would we awake and find that Carla Bruni had melted into thin air, or at least that we had been guilty of exaggerating the charms of the wife of the President of France?"

"That fear was set at rest by the sight of Miss Bruni arriving with her husband, Nicolas Sarkozy, in Downing Street, where they were greeted by Gordon and Sarah Brown.

"Miss Bruni looked so pretty in purple, so vivacious and smiley and approachable."