PARIS, France (CNN) – Sen. Barack Obama said his multi-nation tour did not change his mind on issue of Iraq and added that it has “deepened” his “set of concerns” especially when it came to Afghanistan and Iran.
“Going to Afghanistan confirmed for me that situation is worsening there,” Obama said at a news conference Friday at the Elysee Palace with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. “There was no leader I spoke with that was not concerned about the prospect of Iran getting a nuclear weapon.”
In a press conference that ranged from the serious to borderline love fest, Obama and Sarkozy each said they enjoyed the opportunity to meet and discuss their mutual concern on issues such as global warming and the situation in Darfur.
The French president U.S. senator emerged from behind closed doors to a crush of media crammed into what one French journalist described as the more “casual” area where the French president meets the press. “The French love the Americans,” Sarkozy said, which drew laughter from the crowd and Obama.
Obama returned the favor. “No one better captures the enthusiasm and energy of France than your president,” he said.
Obama, who the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, also joked that when Sarkozy visited Capitol Hill he was so well received that the cafeteria there started calling “french fries, french fries again.”
In a trip designed to convince American voters comfortable with the idea of Obama on a world stage, this three-and-a-half hour stop in Paris, far more than any of the other visits, seemed fit for a head-of-state.
In addition to the joint news conference, the official translation and the French and American flags positioned perfectly behind the two men, crowds lined the streets on the approach to the palace hoping to catch a glimpse of Obama’s motorcade. When Obama arrived, Sarkozy was patiently waiting for him outside on the steps to greet the limousine.
In fact, when a reporter asked how Obama would govern differently than President Bush, he had to remind assembled journalists that he was not quite there yet.
“I’m not the president,” Obama said. “I’m a United States senator. I am a candidate for president.”
Obama added that in a “wonderful tradition” one does not criticize a sitting president while visiting overseas.
Obama heads to London Friday evening to overnight and he will spend Saturday meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Conservative Party leader David Cameron and former Prime Minister Tony Blair.