Election to have no impact on relations with US

5th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

CHICAGO, May 4, 2007 (AFP) - The outcome of the French presidential election will have no impact on the nation's relationship with the United States, the French ambassador said Friday.

CHICAGO, May 4, 2007 (AFP) - The outcome of the French presidential election will have no impact on the nation's relationship with the United States, the French ambassador said Friday.

*sidebar1*"Don't expect any changes in the main elements or components of the foreign policy," said Ambassador Jean-David Levitte.

Levitte dismissed perceptions that relations were chilly between the two countries and said that while the "style" of policy may change under a new president the overall goals would not.

"You will see a number of comments in American papers saying it's time to turn over the bitter page of 2003 but it has already been changed," the French envoy said.

Franco-American relations had cooled in 2003 when Paris took a leading role in the United Nations in opposition to Washington's plans to invade Iraq.

"Jacques Chirac and George Bush - despite their big differences in views and fight over the Iraq war - had a very cordial relationship," Levitte said.

Right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist Segolene Royal are vying to succeed Chirac in Sunday's presidential election.

Speaking to the Chicago Council on Global Relations, Levitte explained that foreign policy did not play a large role in the presidential debates because there is a broad consensus in France on the overall goals.

The priorities include further developing the European Union, maintaining the NATO alliance and building better relations with the countries along the southern rim of the Mediterranean.

Levitte also said it was time to stop the debate over the legitimacy of the war in Iraq and focus on solutions.

"We don't think you can impose democracy through war -- democracy has to come from within," he said.

"Lets help the Muslim countries to develop, as Indonesia did, democratic institutions."

He warned that Iran was deeply involved in all the Middle East conflicts because of its support of Hezbollah in Lebannon, Hamas in Palestine and Shiite militias in Iraq.

The ambassador also expressed France's commitment to ending Iran's suspected nuclear weapons drive.

"Each time we make progress on one (crisis) it has ripple effect," he said.

The election also heralds a generational shift in French politics, Levitte said, noting that regardless who wins, France will have a for the first time a president who was not directly influenced by the experience of World War II.

"That's very important in terms of impressions about the role of France in Europe and in the world," he said.

A president who grew up under the European Union can be expected to have a deep commitment to its institutions and values.

"For our next president it is the first priority," he said.

"The debate will be how to fix these institutions," he said, noting that Sarkozy has argued for keeping Turkey out of the EU while  Royal wishes to continue discussions.

Levitte outlined the challenges that the new French president will face alongside his or her US counterpart: preventing a global war of religion and overcoming the threat of Al-Qaeda; finding a way to integrate the rising powers of China and Indian into world affairs; and addressing global problems such as climate change and cross-border health issues like bird flu and SARS.  

Levitte warned against possible isolationist moves by the US Congress to restrict trade with China which could lead to a "commercial war."


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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