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G-20: Obama in the spotlight at Cannes

CANNES  – While all eyes are on Greece for three days, the president of the United States Barack Obama still managed to attract the spotlight at the G-20 in Cannes.

Friday, U.S. President must also hold a press conference after the summit at 15:15, Nicolas Sarkozy speaking first, at 14:15, as chairman of the G-20.

Barack Obama has also had to address the crisis in the euro area. Thursday evening, after the working dinner of the G-20, he participated in a mini-summit with France, Germany, Italy and Spain and the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In a context where the U.S. economy is still running at idle, but shows some recent signs of recovery, the consequences of contagion of the European crisis would be disastrous for the United States. The stakes are high for Barack Obama, who hopes to get re-elected in 2012.

“I was hoping to come and see some movies,” joked U.S. President on his arrival at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, which hosts the G-20-the red carpet and less.

On Thursday morning, after a bilateral meeting, Nicolas Sarkozy praised the “understanding” of his American counterpart, including the Greek crisis and the tax on financial transactions. The two leaders met again on Friday morning. Barack Obama also met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, another architect of the bailout of Greece.

On Friday after the G-20, Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy will meet for a tribute to Franco-American friendship, near the town hall in Cannes. This ceremony is also an opportunity to salute “the action of French and American soldiers who took part in operations in Libya,” according to the Elysee.

As for the interview as a duo, a common first-it was negotiated by the Elysee Palace, according to a U.S. official. The two heads of state will record all the afternoon in an interview to be broadcast in the newspapers of 20 hours of TF1 and France-2.

Councillor Deputy National Security Ben Rhodes said the program shows “the very close partnership and friendship that developed between the two presidents in three years.”

This common occurrence is mostly interpreted as a gift for Nicolas Sarkozy, given the popularity of Barack Obama in France. It reinforces the communication strategy of the French President on his international stature, after a year of presidency of the G-20, and as he prepares to run for a second term at the Elysee Palace in 2012-even if it has not yet officially announced his candidacy.

On Thursday Barack Obama  presented Nicolas Sarkozy as his “good friend” during the joint statement the two heads of state to the press. In return, the French president commented on how his U.S. counterpart is “very loved and appreciated in France.”

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