News

French Ambassador to U.S. Says Europe Is an Indispensable Partner

The French Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Jean-David Levitte, believes U.S.-French relations have improved considerably since the first term of President George W. Bush.  He said President Bush “extended the hand of friendship and cooperation to Europe, which was well received in Paris and Berlin.”  President Bush chose Europe as his first overseas trip to repair the transatlantic alliance, which split over the U.S. decision to go to war against Iraq.

 

Speaking on VOA News Now’s Press Conference USA, Ambassador Levitte shared his thoughts about the current state of U.S.-French relations as well as issues that unite and divide the United States and Europe.  The Ambassador said that although France and the United States disagreed on the necessity of the war on Iraq, France wants to focus on the future and not the past. 

 

He said the recent Iraqi elections were a great success, and that France stands ready to help the new Iraqi government.  France has agreed to train 1,500 military police.  And the United States and France are cooperating on a peaceful resolution to the political crisis in Lebanon.  For years, Ambassador Levitte said, Europeans have believed America should be more engaged in the Middle East peace process, and with the election of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the decision of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to withdraw from Gaza, it is now possible for the transatlantic partners to work together.  

 

Ambassador Levitte said there is now recognition that Europe is the “indispensable partner” of the United States and both must confront the “dangers of today’s world.”  According to the Ambassador, the most important “symbolic development” during the trip was the meeting between the 25 leaders of the European Union and President Bush and his declaration that a strong European Union is in America’s interest. 

 

Ambassador Levitte said one of the main reasons France was so much against the war in Iraq was its fear that Iraq might be turned into a “magnet for young Muslims turned into jihadists,” and that is indeed happening.  However, he added that France has been quite successful in dismantling some terrorist networks and is sharing its intelligence with Washington. 

 

The Ambassador said he believes the development of democracy in Iraq is “key” to the future of the whole Middle East.  He said the future of relations between the Muslim world and the West is at stake.  But on the issue of Hezbollah, which the United States has designated as a terrorist organization, Washington and Paris differ.  France and several other European nations believe it is inappropriate to classify Hezbollah, which is recognized at a legitimate political party in Lebanon, as a terrorist organization.

 

France and the United States also disagree over the European Union’s plan to lift the ban on military sales to China.  Ambassador Levitte explained the ban on military sales no longer made sense because the Chinese leadership has changed significantly since the 1989 Tiananmen student uprising, which triggered the arms embargo. France views the situation in China today as markedly improved since then.  Ambassador Levitte added that, even if the embargo is lifted in principle, France has “no intention of increasing arms sales” to China.

 

On the Iran nuclear issue, France, Germany, and Britain advocate offering economic incentives to Tehran in exchange for stopping its nuclear program.  Ambassador Levitte said in Brussels President Bush told the European leaders he was “in the listening mode.”  He said what is most important is that Europe and the United States share the same goal – namely, that the purpose of Iran’s nuclear program should be only to produce electricity.  The Ambassador said that, if Washington were to support Iran’s membership in the World Trade Organization, it would give a “boost” to Europe’s negotiating capacity.

 

With respect to the U.S. policy of encouraging the spread of democracy around the world, Ambassador Levitte said that France has “no difficulty” with Washington. He said France strongly supports recent Palestinian political developments and wants Lebanon to succeed in conducting free and fair elections without “outside interference.” 

 

And finally, the French ambassador said that President Chirac has a “great love for America” where he was a student many years ago, and he is sure that the French president will come back for a visit, although the timing for that visit has yet to be determined. 

 

For full audio of the program Press Conference USA click here.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs