Cameron backs Sarkozy in French election

2012-02-17 20:16

Paris - Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday wished his "friend" President Nicolas Sarkozy of France well in his re-election battle, dismissing recent disagreements about Europe.

"We'll be following your fortunes in the weeks to come on the campaign trail and, as I said, I wish you luck," Cameron told Sarkozy, as they gave a joint news conference in Paris less than 10 weeks before the French poll.

Cameron's backing of Sarkozy's candidacy was the second informal endorsement from a major centre-right leader in Europe, after Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel threw her weight behind him earlier this month.

Asked if he would campaign on Sarkozy's behalf, Cameron joked that it might not help convince the French electorate, but said the summit gave him "a chance to wish my friend well in the battle he has ahead"

"I admire Nicolas Sarkozy's courage and his leadership and I think he has achieved great things for his country. Clearly the future is an issue for the French people, but I make those points, I believe those points.

"I'm not quite sure if I made them on the campaign trail they would have the effect that my friend would want them to have," he said, as Sarkozy smiled.

Sarkozy will seek a second five-year mandate in the first round of France's presidential election on April 22, but trails Socialist challenger Francois Hollande in the opinion polls and faces possible defeat.

Cameron and Sarkozy have clashed publicly over how to handle the sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone and about the France leader's plan for a financial transaction tax, which the British premier recently branded "madness".

But both men are centre-right conservatives opposed to Hollande's attacks on financial markets and on their austerity programmes, and they bonded over joint military and diplomatic initiatives in Libya and the Middle East.

"We do sometimes have disagreements on European issues," Cameron admitted, but insisted that the pair has "a relationship that is easily strong enough to survive the odd bump or bounce when we sometimes have a disagreement."

Read more on:    francois hollande  |  angela merkel  |  david cameron  |  nicolas sarkozy  |  france  |  germany  |  uk
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