President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy will do lunch in Caen Saturday while their wives chat nearby. What won’t be on the menu, however, is a quiet dinner for four before the famous foursome attends the D-Day ceremony at the U.S. cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer above Omaha Beach.
None of this augurs well for Sarkozy, who was hoping to spend some quality time with Obama and his First Lady, Michelle - perhaps conjuring memories of Camelot when a vibrant John F. Kennedy visited Paris with his fashionable and French-speaking First Lady, Jackie, according to the London Times.
Pundits suggest that Obama has minimized his time with Sarkozy and wife as a none-too-subtle slam at Sarkozy for failing to invite the Queen of England to the celebrations, as well as for a past slight from Sarkozy for hogging the podium at the G20 summit in London in April. On that occasion, the French President charged that Obama was inexperienced and uniformed – particularly with respect to the intricacies of global warming.
Last April, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, there was apparently less of a global chill between the two leaders: At a joint press conference in Strasbourg, France during the NATO Summit, Sarkozy spoke warmly about the new President of the United States:
“I trust him. I don’t need guarantees. I trust him. I trust his word. And I trust his intelligence,” Sarkozy said of Obama.
The two men have known one another for some time – before either rose to lead his respective nation. When Sarkozy was entertaining the idea of running for the French presidency, then Sen. Obama received him at his Washington office.
But that was then.
These days President Obama seems reluctant to even make the short walk from where he and the First Lady will be staying at the residence of the U.S. Ambassador to the Elysée apartments where the Sarkozys typically spend their weekends.
Hustling to minimize his embarrassment, Sarkozy’s staff reportedly are maneuvering to fix on the brief calendar of the Obama visit another private meeting between the couples – sometime before President Obama jets back to Washington Saturday night or on Sunday.
Reports the London Times: Gone are Sarkozy’s vision of the two power couples breaking bread together at the Jules Verne restaurant perched high in the iconic Eiffel Tower. The irony is that some French websites are blogging about the First Couple’s plans to enjoy a solo meal at the famous eatery.
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