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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora