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Sarkozy advocates closer French-British ties

world Updated: Mar 27, 2008 03:38 IST
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French President Nicolas Sarkozy, ahead of an official visit to Britain, has called for closer bilateral ties.

Both countries should perhaps "move from being cordial to being friendly," Sarkozy said in an interview with British broadcaster BBC.

"It has been long enough now that we have not been at war, that we are not wrangling," Sarkozy said.

Sarkozy said the friendship between Britain and France "shouldn't simply be a matter of principle", but one that is "fleshed out by concrete projects on the economy, immigration, security and defence".

Sarkozy and his wife Carla are to be hosted by Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle on Thursday.

A meeting between the French president and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at Downing Street is scheduled for the same day.

The talks are expected to range from the issue of the turbulence in financial markets and energy security to the engagement in Afghanistan.

French-British ties under their predecessors, Jacques Chirac and Tony Blair, were fraught as a result of the Iraq war.

Sarkozy will deliver a speech before both houses of parliament in London on Wednesday afternoon before setting out for a state banquet at Windsor.

Sarkozy's visit over a day and a half is the first full state visit by a French president to Britain for 12 years, according to the BBC.