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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs