August 27, 2007


From Iran to US, Sarkozy speech signals French diplomatic shift (Angelique Chrisafis, August 28, 2007, Guardian)

The French president Nicolas Sarkozy last night demanded a clear timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq; and said a nuclear-armed Iran would be "unacceptable".

In the first broad foreign policy speech of his presidency, Mr Sarkozy struck a notably more pro-US tone than his predecessor, Jacques Chirac, setting out his vision for a world "challenged" by a confrontation between Islam and the west.

He described the standoff over Iran's nuclear programme as "undoubtedly the most serious crisis before us today", saying a diplomatic push to rein in Tehran was the only alternative to "the Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran." This broke with Mr Chirac, who had earlier suggested that a nuclear-armed Iran might be inevitable.

In the speech to 180 French ambassadors, Mr Sarkozy also appeared to soften his stance on Turkey, saying France would not block negotiations between the EU and Ankara over Turkish membership as long as a special consultation committee was set up to consider Europe's borders.

In another break with the Chirac regime, Mr Sarkozy hardened his tone against Vladimir Putin, saying Russia was using its oil and gas wealth with "brutality".

Stressing the importance of a French presence in the Middle East, Mr Sarkozy said he was prepared to hold high-level talks with Syria if it backed French efforts to end the political crisis in Lebanon.

Mr Sarkozy's speech comes as France attempts to reconcile itself with the US and carve out a role as a mediator in Iraq.

One almost feels W should scratch his belly, or toss him a Scooby Snack.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 27, 2007 6:36 PM

Right now all French men, women and children are on vacation, so Sarkozy can say and do what he wants. When his constituents are all back in place, there'll be quite a bit a negative reaction to his remarks. I wouldn't rule out massive strikes, riots and all the other tricks they've mastered over the ages.

Posted by: erp at August 28, 2007 11:20 AM

"scooby snack" . . . And Chirac would've gotten away with it too, if it wasn't for those meddling kids, er Americans.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at August 28, 2007 1:23 PM