The French president shook Speaker Nancy Pelosi's hand after addressing Congress Wednesday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy pledged Wednesday a renewed alliance and friendship between his country and the United States, and promised to stand firm with Washington on the war in Afghanistan and against Iran's nuclear program.
In a speech to a joint meeting of Congress, Sarkozy - facing problems back home as he tries to implement his campaign promises on immigration and economic reforms - recalled the long history of friendship between the two countries.
"In times of difficulty, in times of hardship, America and France have always stood side by side, supported one another, helped one another, fought for each other's freedom," he said.
Lawmakers greeted Sarkozy's entrance into the chamber with a standing ovation and lengthy applause; evidence of the renewed hopes for Franco-American relations that were chilled in recent years under former President Jacques Chirac over differences of opinion on the Iraq war.
While he never mentioned Iraq, Sarkozy vowed to stand "shoulder to shoulder" with the United States on the war in Afghanistan.
"Let me tell you solemnly today: France will remain engaged in Afghanistan as long as it takes, because what's at stake in that country is the future of our values and that of the Atlantic Alliance," he said. "For me, failure is not an option. Terrorism will not win because democracies are not weak, because we are not afraid of this barbarism. America can count on France."
Sarkozy also promised to help in the fight against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, citing Iran's nuclear program, in particular.
"Let me say it here before all of you: The prospect of an Iran armed with nuclear weapons is unacceptable," he said.
"The Iranian people is a great people. It deserves better than the increased sanctions and growing isolation to which its leaders condemn it. Iran must be convinced to choose cooperation, dialogue and openness. No one must doubt our determination."
But Sarkozy made it clear that while his government will work with Washington on many issues, the relationship will be on an equal footing.
"I want to be your friend, your ally and your partner. But a friend who stands on his own two feet. An independent ally. A free partner," he said.
The French president also addressed the situation in the Middle East, calling on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to "Risk peace! And do it now!"
"The status quo hides even greater dangers: that of delivering Palestinian society as a whole to the extremists that contest Israel's existence; that of playing into the hands of radical regimes that are
exploiting the deadlock in the conflict to destabilize the region; that of fueling the propaganda of terrorists who want to set Islam against the West," Sarkozy said. "France wants security for Israel and a state for the Palestinians."
He called on Washington to pay attention to the dollar's latest woes, to stand with Europe in the fight against global warming, and to take the lead in shaping reforms in the United Nations, the World Bank and the G8.
"Our globalized world must be organized for the 21st century, not for the last century. The emerging countries we need for global equilibrium must be given their rightful place," the French president said.
He closed his comments with a request: that the United States "trust Europe."
"In this unstable, dangerous world, the United States of America needs a strong, determined Europe."
Sarkozy said he sees a need in the future for Europe to "shoulder a growing share of their defense."
"All of our allies, beginning with the United States, with whom we most often share the same interests and the same adversaries, have a strategic interest in a Europe that can assert itself as a strong, credible security partner," he explained.
I sincerely WISH Sarkozy would give an impassioned speech to the American citizens about the problems his country, France, is facing due to the social entitlement programs. How their economy is failing – and why workers are striking because Sarkozy is attempting to scale back these bloated entitlement programs.
WHY would this be so important? Because Hillary & Co wants to take us down the path to European Socialism.
Open your eyes, folks. Look ahead to see our future... France 2007.
France wants to be our friend again, they must be getting invaded by some other nations army again, but then again beggers cant be choosers and we need all the friends we can get.
This does not concern our election and should not be on ticker.
A weasel that does NOT represent France.
We should get on the same train as Sarkozy. He is deporting illegal aliens from France, something we should think about doing. He's also targeting fundamentalist Muslims who don't have proper immigration credentials, another no-brainer.
Giver Mr. Sarkozy a chance. We do not need the CNN Press bashing his efforts to bring about stronger relations between France and the US. I did not see any reports about his successful efforts in freeing a Spanish Flight Crew from Chad. Neither the Spanish PM or his Foreign Minister made any effort to intervene in Chad. They both were on a four day Holiday.
A clear friendship with France , franck,equal but respectuous of individualism will finally make its way in the American psyche .Very good .
Hopefully not just right or wrong but choices and consequences is the new way of thinking for the diplomacy of the 21 century .
French living in America can rejoice that the French government is taking attention to the huge reservoir of energy with this renewal declaration of mutual admiration.
In term of media , and specially radio , i am producing english programs about French and Europeans culture (wpvm.org) , the US need to open the waves for a shared discovery of each other.
In France we are promoting us culture as much as we can ... The US need to do their share .
From the french & indian war of our countries beginning we have never been able to trust the french. after they found they couldnt beat us with military means they have just stood on the sidelines to belittle us and condem us for our freedom. but when they fall to real threats to their survival they know we will rescue them. but for what ...just because thats the kinda guys we are. they are a weak cowardly people that surrender easily and forget just who help them to quickly. i say stay away from them and do not deal in any way with them accept when they need to be reminded who is boss. just send them cases of white flags and leave them be.
Im so glad that the French and Canadians finally got some sense and voted in conservatives. I think the independent – thinking people of these countries saw that both places were way too socialistic and that just inhibits free thinking and entrepeneurship.
to Joel in Oklahoma City.
You obviously don't have a clue what you are talking about. Sarkozy was elected with the largest majority ever since Charles de Gaulle. He actually clearly represents France, which was not the case of Chirac. He loves the US and it's great to see a renewed friendship with the French.
I stop watching O'Reilly O'Really after he for the second time accused American Soldiers of committing atrocities during the Battle of the Bulge. Once is a mistake twice is a out right lie.
So has O'Reilly O'Really taken credit for Sarkozy victory yet?
In O'Reilly O'Really world he believes that his call for boycotting France woke up the French people.
Persia was once a great country, and the world is betting that it will be again. Iran, however, is a ticking bomb of repression.
Let me guess, Joel, of Oklahoma City, Sarkozy "stole the election"?
Funny how American conservatives are so big on Sarkozy. If he was an American politician, he'd be denounced by the right as a socialist to the left even of Hillary Clinton. French "conservatives" are more liberal that American Democrats!
I've been thinking about France since Sarkozy was elected. A few short months before this turn of events in France, liberals in America were very pro-France; their socialized medicine, their ultra-liberal attitudes, their open door policy, their large radical Muslim population all appealed to liberals. What will France (and other Eur. countries) think of us was a popular question.
Now that French people have realized the error of their ways and voted for positive change, suddenly liberals aren't to cozy (no pun intended) with France.
A Cédric –
Je m'y connais bien. Je suis français. M Sarkozy ne nous représente pas.
"Im so glad that the French and Canadians finally got some sense and voted in conservatives. I think the independent – thinking people of these countries saw that both places were way too socialistic and that just inhibits free thinking and entrepeneurship."
Posted By Laura – Tulsa
Oh boy.. look at you guys, you are not a source of inspiration, trust me. Sarkozy has big problems at home, and Canadians are just waiting for the next election. Conservatives didn't offer anything spectacular, and the Canadian spirit is too liberal to take another conservative round.
Sarkozy seems to be what France needs. The strained ties with Fmr. President Chirac have done nothing but harm the alliance between the European Union and the United States. Not only that, but his leniency in policy had allowed France to slide backwards, from a powerful respected state to the second largest joke in the world. Maybe now that they have a leader who is not afraid to use his power responsibly, France can begin to regain it's status in the world.
Maybe we need a leader who can do the same?
Joel from Oklahoma City and M.D. from a location he doesn't wish to disclose win the ignorant comments of the hour awards. Sarkozy, as Cedric correctly points out won about a clear a mandate as you could imagine in the French elections. If he doesn't represent France, then I'm wondering why they voted for him. As for M.D.--what???
I am quite happy to see a renewed friendship with France, and while I'm uneasy about what a more powerful and unified Europe will bring, I'm all for stronger ties to France.
Take that Hillary, Pelosi and Reid!
I have alot of respect for Nicolas Blair...woops...I mean Nicolas Sarkozy.
Your arrogance and ignorance is precisely what has kept our countries relations so poor for the past few years. It is funny how surrendering once can tarnish a country's reputation so much. Read your history books, you will see that the French are not the weak and cowardly people that you depict.
At least, our people has taken a step toward rekindling a friendship that sadly had been weakened. Maybe you should try that too.
The US & France need each other.
You are a poor unknowledgeable and uneducated American.
Fotunately, you don't represent the majority of us.
I thought everyone hated us?
The days of French waffling may be over, give this guy a chance, the French people who overwhelmingly voted him in are.
Jacque Chirac can stay home and count his money that Saddam gave him for his UN security council vote, remember these people were the real "coalition of the bribed and coerced" (sorry the truth hurts John Kerry) along with Russia, Germany and China.