Franco-British summit at stadium, in break with tradition
The Franco-British summit during President Nicolas Sarkozy's state visit to Britain next week will be held at a football stadium
LONDON, March 20, 2008 - The Franco-British summit during President
Nicolas Sarkozy's state visit to Britain next week will be held at a football
stadium, in a break with protocol, Buckingham Palace said Wednesday.
Instead of the traditional summit surroundings of Lancaster House in
central London, Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will hold
talks at the ultra-modern Emirates Stadium, the home of Arsenal football club
in the north of the capital, on March 27.
Arsenal are a symbol of French sporting prowess -- their coach Arsene
Wenger is a Frenchman and team captain William Gallas is a French
international and leads a list of either French or French-speaking players at
Sarkozy, accompanied by his new wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, will also use his
two-day visit to decorate British yachtswoman Ellen MacArthur with the French
Legion of Honour.
MacArthur, who speaks fluent French, is a household name in France after
setting around-the-world solo sailing records -- although a record she set in
2005 was broken earlier this year by a Frenchman, Francis Joyon.
Next Wednesday, the first day of his visit, Sarkozy will make a speech to
both houses of parliament, in a rare honour for a foreign leader.
Sarkozy and his wife will be the guests of Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor
Castle outside London on Wednesday night, and the queen will give a banquet in honour of the president.
The president will have talks with Brown at Downing Street on Thursday,
ahead of the summit at the stadium, while their respective wives are expected
to lunch together the same day.
The last French president to visit Britain was Sarkozy's predecessor
Jacques Chirac in 1996.