Obama, Sarkozy celebrate French-US ties, Libyan victory
US President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy celebrated more than two centuries of Franco-American military ties in a joint ceremony Friday to mark the end of the intervention in Libya, dpa reported.
"The friendship between the United States and France was built through blood," Sarkozy told members of the French and US military assembled at the town hall in Cannes after the end of a Group of 20 summit.
The French had stood by America during its War of Independence (1775-83); a century-and-a-half later US troops helped liberate France from Nazi Germany and in 2011, the two countries participated in the campaign against Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi's regime, he said.
"The friendship between France and the United States is indestructible," he said.
As for Obama, he was no ordinary US president in French eyes, Sarkozy said. He was "President Obama" who had made the US to be "loved and respected by the whole world" once more.
A smiling Obama thanked Sarkozy, "my partner, mon ami," and praised his "extraordinary leadership" on Libya.
"The US was proud to play a decisive role, especially in the early days," Obama said.
Above all the successful NATO-led intervention had shown "why NATO remains the world's most effective alliance," and the importance of "more nations bearing the cost of peace and security," he said.
"That's how our alliance must work in the 21st century."
France and the US were further bound by their egalitarian principles - "where you can become president even if your name is Obama or Sarkozy," he said.
The fraternal display, which was to continue later Friday with the two leaders giving a joint interview to French television, follows a series of minor irritations between Paris and Washington.
The French had bristled at US criticism of Europe's handling of the eurozone debt crisis.
France and Britain led the air campaign in Libya, with the US playing a mostly logistical role.
The Americans, for their part, had been irked by France's vote in favour of Palestine becoming a member of the UN cultural agency, UNESCO. The US had voted against the application.