France, Britain vow new 'entente amicale'

27th March 2008, Comments 0 comments

France and Britain vowed Thursday to turn their "entente cordiale" into an "entente amicale", working together on issues from tackling the credit crunch to fighting in Afghanistan.

   LONDON, March 27, 2008 - France and Britain vowed Thursday to turn
their "entente cordiale" into an "entente amicale", working together on issues
from tackling the credit crunch to fighting in Afghanistan.
   Speaking at a Franco-British summit on the second day of a state visit in
London, President Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister Gordon Brown agreed to
hold more regular meetings to coordinate policy.
   "We will turn the entente cordiale into the entente amicale," said Brown,
standing next to Sarkozy at the Emirates stadium, home to Arsenal football
club whose manager is Frenchman Arsene Wenger.
   "We believe that working together France and Britain can be an even greater
force for good," he said, adding that ultimately it could be an "entente
formidable" -- a wonderful friendship.
   In a joint statement the two leaders notably agreed to to boost cooperation
on climate change, on the Darfur conflict and Myanmar, as well as calling for
"restraint and dialogue" in China over Tibet.
   On Afghanistan, Sarkozy reiterated an announcement made Wednesday that he will propose boosting French forces in the violence-scarred country at a NATO summit next week.
   On economic issues they called for greater transparency on the global
financial markets, urging banks to make "full and prompt disclosure" about
write-downs in the wake of the credit crunch.
   Britain and France have both been hit by recent turmoil caused by the
subprime crisis.
   This year, Britain nationalised the Northern Rock after it was forced to
apply for emergency central bank loans.
   France's Societe Generale incurred losses of 4.9 billion euros (7.5 billion
dollars) when it was forced to unwind more 50 billion euros of unauthorised
deals in the unfavourable market conditions.
   Brown and Sarkozy said further talks were need with the United States and
other countries to promote greater financial stability.
   "We agreed the need for greater transparency in financial markets to ensure
that banks make full and prompt disclosure of the scale of write-offs,
including finding ways to give greater certainty on the valuations of complex
financial assets," they said in a joint statement.
   Sarkozy's first day in London Wednesday was dominated by the glamour of his new wife, model-turned-singer Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, and the president's call
for a new, more friendly approach to Franco-British relations.
   Bruni-Sarkozy, whose photograph was plastered over the British press, wore
an elegant purple coat as she arrived at Downing Street with the president to
be met by Brown and his wife Sarah, who donned a white jacket and black skirt.
   The break with more traditional summit surroundings was designed to
underline a fresh approach to cross-Channel relations.
   Energy, immigration and economic reform had also been expected to be on the agenda, with Sarkozy expected to talk about a possible joint venture to build
a new generation of nuclear power stations in Britain.
   Press reports say the project would help develop a skilled British labour
force to work in the power plants which would then work alongside French
workers to sell power stations abroad over the next 15 years.
   The leaders' wives meanwhile attended a charity lunch at which guests were
to include Oscar-winning actress Judi Dench.
   The president is determined to use the visit to Britain to project a more
statesmanlike image after his ratings at home took a hit following months when
his personal life has taken centre stage.
   But his wife dominated press coverage of the visit, with most front pages
featuring photographs of her and some commentators comparing her sense of
style to Jackie Onassis.
   The Independent underlined that France's new first lady had won in the
style stakes by using a photograph of her shoes and handbag under the
headline: "France 1, England 0."


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