France’s president welcomes Republican McCain in Paris, meeting emphasizes US-France cooperation and diplomatic unity
Republican US presidential nominee John McCain is in Paris, France on Friday, meeting with President of France Nicolas Sarkozy. The visit is the last stop on McCain’s trip through the middle east and europe, and seems calculated to make him look more presidential. McCain was joined on his junket by US senators Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Lindsay Graham of South Carolina.
Before France, McCain’s trip took him to Iraq, Jordan and Israel, before arriving in London on the day marking the 5th anniversary of the beginning of the war in Iraq. There, McCain met with Gordon Brown, after which he declared that a withdrawal from Iraq at this point would be a “terrible mistake.” In France, McCain emphasized France’s role as a US ally and in NATO, saying that France should play a more active part in that organization. He also called for a more unified US-European defense.
McCain’s visit to France comes at a time when the contentious race for the Democratic nomination has been knocking him off the front pages in the US. However, Vietnam war hero McCain knows that foreign affairs is his strong suit, especially if he ends up facing the untested Barack Obama in the general election, so he is making the most of his edge. He also wants to take advantage of the newly thawed relations between France and the US with the advent of President Nicolas Sarkozy, who, ending years of tension between the US and France, chose a meeting with US President Bush as almost his first act in office. The president of France has made no secret of his affinity for the US, and Sarkozy’s brash, can-do personal style and politics are sometimes criticized or praised — depending on the side of the Atlantic — as being more American than French.
The subject of the war in Iraq, a thorn in US-French relations since the beginning, will be played down during McCain’s meeting with the French president, where more positive and cooperative elements between the US and France will be emphasized. This is not McCain’s first meeting in France with Sarkozy. McCain was in Paris last July, where the two spoke about the war in Iraq and climate change.
McCain’s name will not be unfamiliar to some in France; it was McCain’s decision ten years ago to blow the whistle on a suspect Boieng deal in the US that has made him an inadvertent benefactor of France today, as jobs are being created in France that would have gone to Americans, due to the US military’s recent choice of EADS (Airbus) over Boeing as its aircraft supplier. But McCain’s detractors in the US are making political hay out of the loss to US manufacturer Boeing of a $35 billion contract, and the thousands of jobs going to France resulting from McCain’s zeal to uncover corruption at Boeing.
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