French presidential hopeful Sarkozydeclares 'love' for US

5th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

NEW YORK, Oct 4 (AFP) - French Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, considered a possible presidential candidate in France's 2007 election, wrapped up Monday a US visit during which he tried to ease lingering tensions over France's opposition to the US-led war in Iraq.

NEW YORK, Oct 4 (AFP) - French Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, considered a possible presidential candidate in France's 2007 election, wrapped up Monday a US visit during which he tried to ease lingering tensions over France's opposition to the US-led war in Iraq.  

"If I am here, it's because France loves the United States," Sarkozy told students at New York's Columbia University.  

"Do not view the world as hostile toward the United States," said Sarkozy, who is expected to step down from the cabinet later this year to become head of the ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party, a move widely considered as a step toward a presidential run.  

France led the opposition to the US-led war in Iraq, a position that angered US politicians and led some Americans to boycott French products.  

"We had a disagreement over Iraq that is part of our history," Sarkozy said. "Everyone has the right to have a position."  

Sarkozy traveled to the United States to attend meetings of the the International Monetary Fund and World Bank and the Group of Seven world economic powers.   During his trip, he also met with US Secretary of State Colin Powell, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  

Asked about a link between his high-level meetings and his presidential aspirations, Sarkozy said: "You can have pleasure in seeing people, whatever your ambitions might be or whatever the future might hold. It has nothing to do with the domestic political stakes in France."  

He was also asked about President George W. Bush's assertion that his rival in the US presidential election, Democrat John Kerry, would give France a veto over US policy.  

"I believe that President Bush's declarations were aimed more toward Mr. Kerry than France," Sarkozy said. "One must differentiate between what has to do with the election campaign and what has to do with diplomatic relations."

© AFP

Subject: French News

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