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UK, France like daughters, can’t pick one: Obama

world Updated: Feb 13, 2014 00:22 IST
Barack Obama

President Barack Obama has said France and Britain — jealous rivals for US affection — are like his beloved daughters, Malia and Sasha, who he could not choose between.

Obama skillfully skipped through an Anglo-Gallic minefield when asked by a French reporter if America’s oldest ally, and not Britain, was not now its best friend.

“I have two daughters,” Obama said on Tuesday, as he stood with French President Francois Hollande at a White House news conference.

“They are both gorgeous and wonderful, and I would never choose between them.

“And that’s how I feel about my outstanding European partners. All of them are wonderful in their own ways.” Obama spent Monday and Tuesday praising the restored US-France alliance - which dates from the revolutionary era over 200 years ago - but was almost ruptured over the Iraq war a decade ago.

Menawhile, French President Francois Hollande sat between President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama at a state dinner, putting to rest the drama about his solo trip to the US after a very public breakup from his first lady.

The A-list guest roster for the biggest social event of Obama’s second term -with celebrities, Democratic donors, politicians and business types -tactfully avoided talk about “l’affaire Hollande.”

Obama, in his dinner toast, was deliberately sparing. He welcomed the guests with a hearty “bonsoir” and then confessed, “I have now officially exhausted my French.” He then delivered the requisite praises of all things French - “especially the wine.”

Hollande delivered a good portion of his remarks in respectable English before switching back to French. “We love Americans, although we don’t always say so,” he told the crowd.