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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Welcome Back To America President Nicolas Sarkozy: Updated and Bumped with Press Conference

[Update below original post] Bush and Sarkozy's press conference.


"I want to tell you that whenever a U.S. soldier dies anywhere in the world, I think of what the Americans and — the American army and Americans have done for us."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy
..............Toast to the American People

I like this guy. Makes me proud of the name Duclos.

President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush will welcome to the White House this evening the man who made it cool for Republicans to like the French again. President Nicolas Sarkozy arrived today for his first official visit, including a trip to Mount Vernon and an address before a joint session of Congress Wednesday.

The White House is hosting a formal dinner for Sarkozy and his entourage tonight where the entertainment will be actors portraying George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette, another popular, but long dead, Frenchman who fought on the American side of the Revolutionary War.

Sarkozy has been a recent darling in Republican circles, and presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani frequently references Sarkozy in an oft-used stump speech. Republican Newt Gingrich has also spoken glowingly of Sarkozy and his ability to lead and improve U.S.-France relations. Gingrich praised Sarkozy’s recent tome, “Testimony,” as “extraordinarily easy to read and stunningly good.”

Welcome back to America President Sarkozy. Good to have you here.

Good riddance to Chirac.

[Update] 11/07/07- Sarkozy in the NYT.

Setting aside the recent anger he has shown because of his divorce, Mr. Sarkozy backslapped and hugged his way through the day. He also proclaimed his determination to be a reliable partner of the United States.

“I come to Washington to bear a very simple message, a message that I bear on behalf of all Frenchmen,” he said in a toast at a formal White House dinner in his honor. “I want to reconquer the heart of America.”

His visit will last 26 hours but he is making it clear that France, under his rule, is a friend of America and he is doing it in a very public way.

Good for him.

[Update] Bush and Sarkozy's press conference.

3:12 P.M. EST

PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. President, welcome. Thank you very much for coming here to Mount Vernon, and thank you for coming to the United States. I think it's safe to say that you've impressed a lot of people here on your journey. You bring a lot of energy, enthusiasm for your job, love of your country, and a strong set of universal values in your heart.

We just had an extensive conversation, one that you'd expect good friends to have. We talked about Iran and the desire to work jointly to convince the Iranian regime to give up their nuclear weapons ambitions, for the sake of peace. We talked about the Middle East and the upcoming talks at Annapolis, Maryland. We spent some time on Kosovo, and I appreciate the President's leadership on Kosovo.

I can't thank the President enough for his willingness to stand with young democracies as they struggle against extremists and radicals. And one such democracy is Afghanistan. Mr. President, your leadership on that issue for your country was very impressive. You sent a very clear message. It's clear that you're a man who does what he says he's going to do. It's the kind of fellow I like to deal with.

And so, Mr. President, I also want to thank your administration in your staunch -- strong stance for human rights and human dignity. Whether they be to those who are oppressed in Burma, or Darfur, or on the island of Cuba, France's voice is important and it's clear that the human rights of every individual are important to the world. And I look forward to advancing peace and freedom with you, Mr. President.

Our bilateral relations are important. They are strong and we intend to keep them that way. And so, welcome here to George Washington's old home. Proud to have you in America. Thanks for coming.

PRESIDENT SARKOZY: (As translated.) I want to thank President Bush, his administration, and all Americans who have welcomed us in such exceptional fashion. I get the distinct sense that it is France that has been welcomed so warmly, with so much friendship, so much love. This was my hope, my ambition. And with Bernard Kouchner, Christine Lagarde, Rachida Dati and myself, this is exactly what we wanted.

We've been very moved, deeply moved by your wonderful welcome, together with Mrs. Laura Bush, yesterday at the White House. I especially enjoyed the skit of the dialogue between George Washington and Lafayette that we witnessed.

The tokens of friendship that we have seen since we've been here, your open-mindedness and the fact that we can address any and every subject -- all those that you mentioned, sir -- even though the European defense policy and NATO have also been addressed; environmental issues, which are close to our heart; and Afghanistan. I said that we would stay there because what is at stake is the credibility of the Atlantic Alliance and the fight against terror.

We spent hours discussing very important issues, commercial, economic and others. And I will say that we have done so in a spirit of openness and trust, and that is something I've been particularly struck by. And I can tell you that this visit I think has been very widely covered in France. So when I say that the French people love the American people, that is the truth and nothing but the truth.

Now, I expressed -- I spoke at length this morning and I think the best would be that after President Bush -- whom I wish to thank once again -- we could answer any questions you may have.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Two questions a side. Deb.

Q Mr. President, you came down so hard on Burma and other nations for their crackdowns on pro-democracy demonstrators. Yet you seem to be giving Musharraf a pass. So the question is why are you going so soft on Musharraf? Is there a double standard?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I spoke to President Musharraf right before I came over here to visit with President Sarkozy. And my message was that we believe strongly in elections, and that you ought to have elections soon, and you need to take off your uniform. You can't be the President and the head of the military at the same time. So I had a very frank discussion with him.

Look, our objective is the same in Burma as it is in Pakistan, and that is to promote democracy. There is a difference, however. Pakistan has been on the path to democracy; Burma hadn't been on the path to democracy. And it requires different tactics to achieve the common objective. And as I told you, I just spoke to President Musharraf before I came here, and my message was very -- very plain, very easy to understand, and that is, the United States wants you to have the elections as scheduled and take your uniform off.

You want to call on somebody?

PRESIDENT SARKOZY: You know, in France, I don't choose, I don't pick the journalists.

PRESIDENT BUSH: You don't get to choose? Who chooses? I choose? (Laughter.) Who would you like me to choose? (Laughter.) Oh, he chose. Wait a minute, it didn't last very long, did it?

PRESIDENT SARKOZY: I didn't choose, I indicated a general direction. (Laughter.)

Q Thank you, Mr. President. My question is on Iraq. Mr. President, this morning you talked at length about Afghanistan, Iran, but not Iraq. And I wanted to ask both of you, is France reconciled with the United States, the United States is reconciled with France? So what about Iraq? Can France, for instance, help to get out of the Iraqi quagmire? And President Bush, where do you stand on Iraq and your domestic debate on Iraq? Do you have a timetable for withdrawing troops?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I don't -- you know, "quagmire" is an interesting word. If you lived in Iraq and had lived under a tyranny, you'd be saying, god, I love freedom -- because that's what's happened. And there are killers and radicals and murderers who kill the innocent to stop the advance of freedom. But freedom is happening in Iraq. And we're making progress.

And I can't thank the President enough for sending his Foreign Minister to Baghdad. It's a clear message that freedom matters; that when people are struggling to live in freedom, that those of us who have comfort -- the comfort of a free society ought to help them.

We had a difference of opinion with your great country over whether or not I should have used military force to enforce U.N. demands. I reminded a TV reporter -- I don't know if the person is here or not -- but I said, I just want to remind you that 1441 was supported by France and the United States, which clearly said to the dictator, you will disclose, disarm, or face serious consequences. Now, I'm the kind of person that when somebody says something, I take them for their word.

Having said that, we had a difference of opinion. But I don't sense any difference of opinion now that a struggling democracy wants help from those of us who live in the comfort of free societies. And, Mr. President, the strong gesture of sending your Foreign Minister there wasn't a message to the United States, because we're good friends; it was message to the Iraqi citizens, that said, we hear your cries for freedom, we want you to succeed -- because one of the lessons of history is, free societies yield peace.

And so I appreciate your leadership on that issue and I want to thank your Foreign Minister for -- I don't see your Foreign Minister. Look, the guy was here. (Laughter.) Oh, there he is, yeah, next to -- look, the President was blocking; next to Madam Rice. Anyway, thank you, sir.

PRESIDENT SARKOZY: Allow me to give you two answers in one. On Pakistan, yes, we're worried about the situation. It's worrisome and we need to have elections as quickly as possible. You cannot combat extremism using the same methods as extremists, and it is very important, it is of the essence that Pakistan organize elections. I, like President Bush, I wish this to take place as speedily as possible.

Let me remind you that this is a country of 150 million inhabitants who happens to have nuclear weapons. It is very important for us that one day we shouldn't wake up with a government, an administration in Pakistan which is in the hands of the extremists. And we should, each and every one of us, think about this, of the principles, the values that we uphold and that we defend, and we must continue to uphold. And then there's the complexity, as it were, in the field. That's why it's important to convene elections, call elections.

Now, on Iraq, Bernard Kouchner's trip to Iraq was very successful. What does France want? A united Iraq. No one, it is in no one's interest to see Iraq dismantled. We want a democratic Iraq. We want a diverse Iraq, where each component, component element of Iraqi society has learned to live with others; an Iraq which can administer and govern itself and that has the means of ensuring the peace and security of every one of its citizens. And that was exactly Bernard Kouchner's message when he went to Iraq. And this is in the interest of one and all that it be thus. And that position is the position I will defend until the end.


Q Mr. President --


Q Both of you.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Get moving, will you?

Q Okay. Mr. President, with oil approaching $100 a barrel, are you concerned that your hard words for Iran on its nuclear program are helping drive up oil prices, which can end up hurting the U.S. economy?

PRESIDENT BUSH: No. I believe oil prices are going up because the demand for oil outstrips the supply for oil. Oil is going up because developing countries still use a lot of oil. Oil is going up because we use too much oil, and the capacity to replace reserves is dwindling. That's why the price of oil is going up.

I believe it is important for us to send clear signals to the Iranian government that the free world understands the risks of you trying to end up with a nuclear weapon. And, therefore, we will work together to try to find if there's not rational people inside your government who are tired of isolation and who believe there's a better way forward.

Every time I give a talk about Iran I make sure I speak to the Iranian people -- and I want them to hear once again that we discussed your country today; that we believe -- that I believe that you've got a bright future; that we respect your history and respect your tradition; however, you are governed by people who are making decisions that are isolating you from the rest of the world and you can do better than that.

The idea of Iran having a nuclear weapon is dangerous, and therefore, now is the time for us to work together to diplomatically solve this problem. And we spent a lot of time on the subject. And I thank the French President for his resolve on solving this issue peacefully.

PRESIDENT SARKOZY: I just wanted to say that we exchanged all the intelligence and information we had. It is unacceptable that Iran should have at any point a nuclear weapon. But Iran is entitled to the energy of the future, which is civilian nuclear energy. I believe in the effectiveness of sanctions. I believe even in the need -- (inaudible) -- the sanctions. But in my mind the two go together, in other words, the open -- the outstretched hand of dialogue, of continuing discussions -- because Iran deserves a better fate than that isolation. And I cannot imagine that there are not people, leaders in Iran who will stop to think about the consequences of what is going on.

This is a great people and a great civilization, and we must be firm for as long as there is no gesture on their part. And we have to keep the way of dialogue open, because we must do everything to avoid the worst-case scenario. And this, indeed, was the subject of a very lengthy conversation which showed exactly how convergent our views were.

Q Mr. President, with respect to your statements on Afghanistan and France's commitment on engagement, does this mean that France is going to be sending additional ground troops to fight in the southern regions of Afghanistan, as the U.S. wishes them to do?

How do you feel about the fact that France has been engaging Syria on the upcoming Lebanese presidential election? Do you think that's a good idea? And what are the chances that Lebanon will have a presidential election by November 24th? Thank you.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Thanks, good question.

You want to go first?

PRESIDENT SARKOZY: Well, on Afghanistan, I said what I thought and what I think. We've talked about it with President Bush. We will not pull out of Afghanistan because what is at stake here is the solidity of our alliance, and ultimately what is at stake here is the fight against terror. We're thinking about the best way to help bring about a democratic Afghanistan. Is it by strength, in stepping up our training efforts so that we lay the groundwork or the basis of a modern Afghan state? Or is it by other means? Maybe perhaps military means? We're still thinking about it.

THE PRESIDENT: First of all, you know, the Syrian influence in Lebanon was something that the previous government and I worked on to -- collaboratively. And because France and the United States worked together, we passed 1551 Resolution out of the United Nations, which got Syria out of Lebanon, by and large. And so we spent time collaborating on how best to make sure that Syria doesn't influence the presidential elections; that, in fact, the presidency is picked by the Lebanese people.

And I'm very aware that Mr. Hariri and Nabih Berri are in consultations as to whether or not they can come up with an acceptable candidate to them, not to Syria; whether or not the Lebanese people can be assured that their President is going to be representing the people of Lebanon, not the people -- not the government of Syria.

And I'm comfortable with President Sarkozy's government sending clear messages that meet common objectives, and our common objective here is for this Lebanese democracy to survive, thrive and serve as an example for others.

We will work with France and with others to see that this process be completed by November 24th. We believe it's in the interests of the Middle East that this Lebanese democracy survive. I want Lebanon to serve as an example for the Palestinians, to show them what's possible. I believe in a two-state solution. I believe there ought to be two states living side by side in peace. So does the President; we discussed that today. There's nothing better for the Palestinians to see what is possible with a stable democracy in Lebanon.

The interesting challenge we face in the world in which we live is there are murderers who will try to stop the advance of democracy, particularly in the Middle East. Isn't it interesting that the places where there's most violence is where there's young democracies trying to take hold, whether it be Iraq or Lebanon or in the Palestinian Territories? And the call for nations such as ourselves is to support those who want to live in freedom. Freedom is the great alternative to the ideology of people who murder the innocent to achieve their political objectives -- by the way, the very same ones that came and killed 3,000 of our citizens.

And so what I'm telling you is -- let me end this press conference by telling you this: I have a partner in peace; somebody who has clear vision, basic values, who is willing to take tough positions to achieve peace. And so when you ask, am I comfortable with the Sarkozy government sending messages -- you bet I'm comfortable.

Mr. President, thanks for coming. I appreciate you being here.

[Update] Sarkozy's speech to Congress can be found here.

Some highlights:

From the very beginning, the American dream meant putting into practice the dreams of the Old World.

From the very beginning, the American dream meant proving to all mankind that freedom, justice, human rights and democracy were no utopia but were rather the most realistic policy there is and the most likely to improve the fate of each and every person.

America did not tell the millions of men and women who came from every country in the world and who—with their hands, their intelligence and their heart—built the greatest nation in the world: "Come, and everything will be given to you." She said: "Come, and the only limits to what you'll be able to achieve will be your own courage and your own talent." America embodies this extraordinary ability to grant each and every person a second chance.

Here, both the humblest and most illustrious citizens alike know that nothing is owed to them and that everything has to be earned. That's what constitutes the moral value of America. America did not teach men the idea of freedom; she taught them how to practice it. And she fought for this freedom whenever she felt it to be threatened somewhere in the world. It was by watching America grow that men and women understood that freedom was possible.

What made America great was her ability to transform her own dream into hope for all mankind.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The men and women of my generation heard their grandparents talk about how in 1917, America saved France at a time when it had reached the final limits of its strength, which it had exhausted in the most absurd and bloodiest of wars.

The men and women of my generation heard their parents talk about how in 1944, America returned to free Europe from the horrifying tyranny that threatened to enslave it.

Fathers took their sons to see the vast cemeteries where, under thousands of white crosses so far from home, thousands of young American soldiers lay who had fallen not to defend their own freedom but the freedom of all others, not to defend their own families, their own homeland, but to defend humanity as a whole.

Fathers took their sons to the beaches where the young men of America had so heroically landed. They read them the admirable letters of farewell that those 20-year-old soldiers had written to their families before the battle to tell them: "We don't consider ourselves heroes. We want this war to be over. But however much dread we may feel, you can count on us." Before they landed, Eisenhower told them: "The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you."

And as they listened to their fathers, watched movies, read history books and the letters of soldiers who died on the beaches of Normandy and Provence, as they visited the cemeteries where the star-spangled banner flies, the children of my generation understood that these young Americans, 20 years old, were true heroes to whom they owed the fact that they were free people and not slaves. France will never forget the sacrifice of your children.

To those 20-year-old heroes who gave us everything, to the families of those who never returned, to the children who mourned fathers they barely got a chance to know, I want to express France's eternal gratitude.

On behalf of my generation, which did not experience war but knows how much it owes to their courage and their sacrifice; on behalf of our children, who must never forget; to all the veterans who are here today and, notably the seven I had the honor to decorate yesterday evening, one of whom, Senator Inouye, belongs to your Congress, I want to express the deep, sincere gratitude of the French people. I want to tell you that whenever an American soldier falls somewhere in the world, I think of what the American army did for France. I think of them and I am sad, as one is sad to lose a member of one's family.


What makes America strong is the strength of this ideal that is shared by all Americans and by all those who love her because they love freedom.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today as in the past, as we stand at the beginning of the 21st century, it is together that we must fight to defend and promote the values and ideals of freedom and democracy that men such as Washington and Lafayette invented together.

Together we must fight against terrorism. On September 11, 2001, all of France—petrified with horror—rallied to the side of the American people. The front-page headline of one of our major dailies read: "We are all American." And on that day, when you were mourning for so many dead, never had America appeared to us as so great, so dignified, so strong. The terrorists had thought they would weaken you. They made you greater. The entire world felt admiration for the courage of the American people. And from day one, France decided to participate shoulder to shoulder with you in the war in Afghanistan. Let me tell you solemnly today: France will remain engaged in Afghanistan as long as it takes, because what's at stake in that country is the future of our values and that of the Atlantic Alliance. For me, failure is not an option. Terrorism will not win because democracies are not weak, because we are not afraid of this barbarism. America can count on France.

Together we must fight against proliferation. Success in Libya and progress under way in North Korea shows that nuclear proliferation is not inevitable. Let me say it here before all of you: The prospect of an Iran armed with nuclear weapons is unacceptable. The Iranian people is a great people. It deserves better than the increased sanctions and growing isolation to which its leaders condemn it. Iran must be convinced to choose cooperation, dialogue and openness. No one must doubt our determination.

Together we must help the people of the Middle East find the path of peace and security. To the Israeli and Palestinian leaders I say this: Don't hesitate! Risk peace! And do it now! The status quo hides even greater dangers: that of delivering Palestinian society as a whole to the extremists that contest Israel's existence; that of playing into the hands of radical regimes that are exploiting the deadlock in the conflict to destabilize the region; that of fueling the propaganda of terrorists who want to set Islam against the West. France wants security for Israel and a State for the Palestinians.

Together we must help the Lebanese people affirm their independence, their sovereignty, their freedom, their democracy. What Lebanon needs today is a broad-based president elected according to the established schedule and in strict respect of the Constitution. France stands engaged alongside all the Lebanese. It will not accept attempts to subjugate the Lebanese people.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

America feels it has the vocation to inspire the world. Because she is the most powerful country in the world. Because, for more than two centuries, she has striven to uphold the ideals of democracy and freedom. But this stated responsibility comes with duties, the first of which is setting an example.

Those who love this nation which, more than any other, has demonstrated the virtues of free enterprise expect America to be the first to denounce the abuses and excesses of a financial capitalism that sets too great a store on speculation. They expect her to commit fully to the establishment of the necessary rules and safeguards. The America I love is the one that encourages entrepreneurs, not speculators.

Those who admire the nation that has built the world's greatest economy and has never ceased trying to persuade the world of the advantages of free trade expect her to be the first to promote fair exchange rates. The yuan is already everyone's problem. The dollar cannot remain solely the problem of others. If we're not careful, monetary disarray could morph into economic war. We would all be its victims.

Those who love the country of wide open spaces, national parks and nature reserves expect America to stand alongside Europe in leading the fight against global warming that threatens the destruction of our planet. I know that each day, in their cities and states, the American people are more aware of the stakes and determined to act. This essential fight for the future of humanity must be all of America's fight.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I want to be your friend, your ally and your partner. But a friend who stands on his own two feet. An independent ally. A free partner.

France must be stronger. I am determined to carry through with the reforms that my country has put off for all too long. I will not turn back, because France has turned back for all too long. My country has enormous assets. While respecting its unique identity, I want to put it into a position to win all the battles of globalization. I passionately love France. I am lucid about the work that remains to be accomplished.

It is this ambitious France that I have come to present to you today. A France that comes out to meet America to renew the pact of friendship and the alliance that Washington and Lafayette sealed in Yorktown.

Together let us be worthy of their example, let us be equal to their ambition, let us be true to their memories!

Long live the United States of America!

Vive la France!
Long live French-American friendship!

Read the entire speech.

This man loves America more than some American born do and THAT is the pity of America and the greatness of Sarkozy.

Thank you President Sarkozy.....may your words be a lesson to those that live in America and yet show nothing but disdain for their own country.

Bless you.