Sat, Aug 18, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Sarkozy hails `terrific' French-US relationship

BONDING Although his wife had bailed out of a hotdog picnic with the Bush family, the French leader summed up his US vacation as `fantastic'

AFP , WOLFEBORO, NEW HAMPSHIRE

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Thursday at the end of his US vacation that France is popular again in the US and hailed the countries' "terrific" relationship.

"France is back, there are no problems between France and the US, or between the French people and the American people," Sarkozy said on the eve of his departure from a two-week family holiday in New Hampshire.

"And that is terrific," he added. "That doesn't mean there are no disagreements. We will have disagreements."

While on his vacation Sarkozy spoke last week with US President George W. Bush to firm up the countries' bond after several years of tense relations.

The leaders met at the Bush family residence in Kennebunkport, Maine, and dined on a picnic lunch of hot dogs and hamburgers, though Sarkozy's wife, Cecilia, bowed out at the last minute, citing a throat ailment.

She was seen out walking the next day but the apparent snub got little play in US media.

Sarkozy said strong US-French ties are all the more important because "the United States is soon heading into an election cycle" and will be choosing "a new team to govern."

He summed up his US vacation as "fantastic" and praised Americans for being "very nice."

"We did some exercise, took walks, relaxed as a family, it was wonderful," Sarkozy said, adding he "would have liked to have had the opportunity to come here when I was young."

"Americans were very warm with my family and me, we saw it multiple times," Sarkozy said. "Each time we went out to eat, or were out exercising, people were very nice."

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