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EU leaders brush off no-show by Obama

Posted by seumasach on February 6, 2010

NZHerald

6th feruary, 2010

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel brushed off President Barack Obama’s decision not to attend an annual summit with European leaders while stressing the importance of Russia as a European partner.

The State Department said this week that Obama would miss the EU-US summit in May that will take place in Spain, which now holds the rotating EU presidency.

Since then, European media have been awash with commentary wondering what the White House’s snub means for Europe as it struggles to find a united voice in foreign affairs following the creation of the new posts of EU President and Foreign Minister.

“With the United States, I don’t understand the debate,” Sarkozy told a news conference with Merkel after a joint meeting of the entire French and German governments in Paris.

“Where is the drama? Is that our only problem in the world today?” he continued.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero also expressed understanding yesterday for Obama’s decision, telling a meeting of the Atlantic Council in Washington that European leaders “do not think he has lost interest in the EU”.

Obama already had miffed Merkel by skipping the ceremonies marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in November, and she was more taciturn.

She said that with Sarkozy and other EU leaders, she would discuss the issue at an informal summit in Brussels next week.

Sarkozy indicated that Obama might meet European leaders later in the year when the US President would be expected to attend the annual Nato leaders summit, which this year is in Portugal.

Sarkozy and Merkel stressed the importance of their relationship with Russia. Both Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin are scheduled to visit France in coming months.

Sarkozy and Merkel outlined a roadmap for bilateral relations until 2020, aiming to strengthen their joint leadership role in Europe.

– AP

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