Sarkozy and Obama share warm words in joint TV appearance

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French President Nicolas Sarkozy pulled off one notable coup as the host an otherwise messy G20 summit Friday, securing a joint televised interview with US President Barack Obama.

The pair have had a reportedly testy relationship in the past, but put all differences behind them in the show, broadcast simultaneously on France's main private and state networks and denounced by the opposition as a stunt.

Both leaders praised the other's role in efforts to resolve the current financial crisis, and Obama in particular praised Sarkozy for his role in NATO's successful campaign against Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi.

"We would not have succeeded in Libya without Nicolas leadership and NATO's leadership," Obama said, sitting beside his new close ally in Cannes' city hall, a short distance from the seafront summit venue.

"We would not be in as strong a position in Afghanistan if it weren't for Nicolas's leadership and our other coalition partners," he added. France has just under 4,000 troops in Afghanistan, where 75 have died.

Sarkozy also thanked Obama for his leadership and said the pair are friends.

"We can be in disagreement on certain things. We're very blunt and we're very frank with one another. You know, when he doesn't agree with something Barack calls me, and when I have a problem I tell him so," Sarkozy said.

"We are people who talk to one another, but friendship is not simply about the good times and parties. It's also about the bad times and standing shoulder to shoulder. That is what Franco-American friendship is all about."

Earlier, the two presidents had attended a ceremony at Cannes' war memorial and hailed the United States and France's long history as military allies.

Ties between the pair have not always been so strong. Sarkozy tried to form a bond with the US leader when he was a hugely popular figure in Europe in 2008, but was rebuffed and reportedly took it badly.

Since then, however, both men have seen their approval numbers slip and found themselves in agreement on many key international issues.

© 2011 AFP

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