Faux pas? French president late for NATO talks
New French President Francois Hollande was late for a very important date Monday, when he missed the start of a NATO summit and had to sneak into the talks 15 minutes after they started.
Hollande, making his diplomatic debut less than a week after being inaugurated as France's new leader, was delayed by a series of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of NATO summit in Chicago.
By the time he slipped into his seat alongside more than 50 other world leaders, he had missed the opening remarks by both NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen and his host US President Barack Obama.
Hollande's staff said meetings with Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski and UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon had run longer than expected and the French leader was then caught up by security issues surrounding Obama.
"There is no diplomatic problem," a member of his entourage said. "The president followed the whole of President Obama's speech and took part in all the morning's discussions."
Hollande has already created a stir at the NATO meetings by sticking to his campaign pledge to withdraw French troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2012, a year earlier than planned.
© 2012 AFP