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Nicolas Sarkozy in the US for bilateral talks and visit

September 23rd, 2011 No comments

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been in the US over the past couple days on a diplomatic visit.

He met with President Barack Obama at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City on September 21. Their remarks are below.

He also joined New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg “to celebrate 125 years of friendship between France and NYC.”

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release September 21, 2011
Remarks by President Obama and President Sarkozy of France

Waldorf Astoria Hotel
New York, New York

4:53 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA: On the anniversary of September 11th, President Sarkozy gave a speech at our embassy in Paris, and he reminded the people of France, but also the world, of the extraordinary friendship that had developed, in part, because of the great sacrifices that our men and women in uniform have made over the decades to preserve freedom and democracy. And so, not only am I grateful for the expression of deep friendship that President Sarkozy expressed, but I want to affirm the mutuality of feeling that we have towards the French people.

That partnership has been evidenced by the extraordinary work that we’ve done together in Libya. And I want to thank President Sarkozy for his leadership, as a coalition helped the Libyan people achieve the kind of freedom and opportunity that they’re looking for. That partnership is evidenced in the work we did together in Côte d’Ivoire to ensure that the rightfully elected leader of that country was put in place. And our partnership and our mutual leadership will be required to deal with a range of international issues that have been discussed here at the United Nations and are going to be critical in the months and years to come, including trying to find a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also trying to find a coordinated world strategy, global strategy, to deal with a economy that is still far too fragile.

And, of course, we still have the joint project to bring stability and transition to Afghan governance. And we are extraordinarily grateful for the sacrifices that the men and women in uniform from France have made in that effort.

On a personal note, I consider Nicolas a friend as well as a colleague. Thank you for your leadership. Welcome. And I look forward to a very productive discussion.

PRESIDENT SARKOZY: (As translated.) I should like to say just how delighted we are to be here in the United States, in New York, alongside Barack Obama.

Now, for we, the people of France, I must say, it’s actually easy to work with Barack Obama. Whatever the crises we’ve had to face together, whatever the initiatives we have taken jointly, on every single occasion we have found a listening, open-minded attitude on the part of our friend, Barack Obama. In particular, when tackling the crisis, which is still upon us today, the leadership that President Obama has shown, and showed at the time, have been of a special value to us all.

There is still much to do, in particular in paving the way to the G20 summit in Cannes. This is our priority; our number-one priority — let me make this very clear — is to find the path to growth worldwide.

Lastly, I wish to say to what extent I am sensitive to the boldness, the courage, the intelligence, and the sensitivity of President Obama, my friend. I liked him before his election; I liked him once he was elected; and I especially appreciate him now, when the tough times are upon us.

And there’s one thing I want to say, perhaps on a more personal note, and that I really mean from the bottom of my heart. When things are as tough as they are right now, when the going gets as tough as it is right now, it is especially precious and important to be able to speak to what is the world’s number-one power — to someone who listens; someone who is sensitive to others; someone who is respectful and aware of other people’s redlines and prepared to take them into account, especially at a time when, as I said, we are facing fresh difficulties, and we really need, together, to go forward.

(Speaking in English.) She speaks like me. (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you very much.

END
5:02 P.M. EDT

Mideast turmoil, record gas (petrol) prices in France

Prices at the pump are at record levels in France, largely due to the rise in oil prices which in turn can be explained by the instability in the Middle East, especially in Libya, (when is it ever stable? I guess I should say exceptional instability). Of course it’s necessary to take into account the VAT (value-added-tax) at 19.6% (tax that goes to the French state). But there is also the TIPP (taxe intérieure sur les produits pétroliers), a tax on petrol-based products explained in detail here.

Right now the average price for unleaded 95 grade is 1.5067 euros per liter (according to report by BFM TV). You can watch the video here in French. This is the first time it’s surpassed 1.50, or about $7.92 per US gallon at today’s exchange rate. Some analysts even predict prices may continue to rise and surpass the 2 euro mark.

News sites like RTL are showing anger against these price hikes, blaming it on the State and the oil companies. You can follow energy prices here at Bloomberg.

SNCF announces new strikes starting April 6

According to Bloomberg News, France and Britain will both experience rail strikes in the coming week. For the British, you can see more details by clicking on the links to the articles. I focus on France here.

Business Week quoted Bloomberg News:

Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer, or SNCF, plans strikes in April in the third walkout this year at the French railway. The CGT union, SNCF’s biggest, is asking drivers to call attention to demands on wages and working conditions. Freight workers, ticket-sales staff and other workers may join the strike in following days, Severine Leblond, an administrative assistant at the CGT, said today by phone.

New York Times In Transit travel blog:

Planned Rail Strikes in France and Britain
Bloomberg is reporting that in France, the biggest union of the S.N.C.F., the French national railroad, also plans strikes beginning April 6, the third walkout this year to call attention to its demands on wages and working conditions.

The union, the C.G.T., has been joined by the smaller C.F.D.T. labor group in calling on train drivers, a C.G.T. representative said Wednesday. Freight workers and other employees are set to join the strike in following days.

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