Sarkozy toasts South Africa ahead of World Cup

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French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday opened a dinner for African leaders by raising a glass to South Africa as it prepares to be the first African country to host the football World Cup.

"South Africa will be the host country and the entire world will be watching because an exceptional event will be taking place there, the World Cup," Sarkozy said at a dinner with the 38 African leaders in the Riviera city of Nice.

Turning to South Africa's Jacob Zuma, Sarkozy said the event will show "Africa's ability to organise an event that is not just global, but universal."

Zuma attended the two-day summit in Nice just days head of the opening of the World Cup on June 11, an event that South Africa has prepared for years and hopes to be a showcase of the new multi-racial and economically-strong country.

Sarkozy joked that he hoped South Africa's Bafanas would be more "accommodating" toward France's team at their June 22 match than Senegal had been in 2002.

France lost to Senegal in the opening match of the 2002 World Cup.

© 2010 AFP

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