March 30th, 2010
05:38 PM ET
12 years ago

Obama, French president discuss Iran sanctions, global economy

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" President Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy spoke to reporters Tuesday at the White House."]
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday pledged mutual support for tougher U.N. sanctions against Iran over Tehran's refusal to comply with international regulations regarding its nuclear energy program.

In a joint White House news conference after they met for more than an hour, Obama and Sarkozy agreed that the international community must prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Obama conceded that the push for stronger sanctions lacked backing from some nations, but he said the effort to convince the U.N. Security Council to impose additional measures would continue.

"I'm not interested in waiting months for a sanctions regime to be in place," Obama said. "I am interested in seeing that regime in place in weeks.

And we are working diligently with our international partners, emphasizing to them, that as Nicolas said, this is not simply an issue of trying to isolate Iran, it has enormous implications for the safety and the security of the entire region."

Obama called the pro-sanctions position "much stronger" now compared to a year ago, after working with France and other allies to engage Iran and offer it an opportunity to work out an acceptable nuclear energy plan.

"We think we can get sanctions," Obama said.

Sarkozy said France fully supported the U.S. position, and he praised Obama for being an honest partner on all issues facing the international community.

"His word is his bond, and that is important," Sarkozy said in French, with his comments translated for the media. "No surprises. When he can, he delivers. When he can't, he says so."

Obama offered Sarkozy a warm welcome as leader of what he called the oldest U.S. ally. The talks covered major issues including Middle East peace efforts, the war in Afghanistan, the global recession and the need for coordinated financial regulations to prevent another economic crisis, Obama said.

Before the meeting, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama wanted to emphasize the "very important and close relationship" with Sarkozy.

However, Gibbs said Obama had no plans to ask Sarkozy to deploy more French troops to the NATO forces supporting the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan.

Obama would seek Sarkozy's agreement for stronger U.N. sanctions against Iran, with much of Tuesday's discussion focusing on "what those sanctions look like moving forward," Gibbs said.

"The leadership of both presidents will be tremendously important in the upcoming push for sanctions and additional efforts that are needed" to get Iranians to live up to their responsibilities, Gibbs said, calling Sarkozy "a leader on this."

France is one of the so-called P-5+1 nations, along with the United States, Germany, Russia, China and Great Britain, that have negotiated with Iran over the nuclear issue. The group, which comprises the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, is divided over whether to strengthen sanctions against Iran, with China and Russia considered the main holdouts.

Obama recently announced an agreement with Russia on a new treaty to reduce the nuclear arsenals of both countries, and U.S. officials say they hope the trust from the agreement signals greater openness by Russia to tougher sanctions against Iran.

After their talks, the two leaders were to join their wives for a private dinner at the White House, accompanied only by interpreters, Gibbs said.

Sarkozy's wife, Carla, a former fashion model, visited a local school for disadvantaged students Tuesday where she read to one class and elicited giggles when she kissed the cheek of a youngster who gave her a T-shirt bearing the saying, "Assign Yourself."

Earlier, the Sarkozys had lunch at Ben's Chili Bowl, a downtown Washington landmark known for chili dogs.

Noting the French reputation for fine cuisine, Obama teased Sarkozy by telling reporters that "the fact that Nicolas went to Ben's Chili bowl for lunch shows his discriminating palate."

Sarkozy quickly noted that Obama had recommended the diner, and that the interior there included a large photo of the president.

Updated: 6:51 pm.

–CNN's Alan Silverleib and Dick Uliano contributed to this story.

Filed under: Iran • Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. Mike

    I thought I remember Candidate Obama promising to have a one on one meeting with Iran. I thought that caused quite the response and he stuck to what he said.

    Almost halfway through his term and no meeting insight. I guess it's really not that important afterall. Filling out his bracket is taking up his time.

    March 30, 2010 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  2. LacrosseMom

    Ditto to what "Fox lost me at freedom fries"! Well said!!

    March 30, 2010 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  3. Steven Brown

    Sarkozy is a good friend of the USA. Unfortunately, his approval rating in France is down.

    March 30, 2010 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  4. Daniel

    Nothing Nicolas Sarkozy does surprises me.Last year he brought France back into NATO which made me sick.France would do far better to promote world peace instead of joining this insidious plot to carve up the Middle East along with the United States and Great Britain.

    March 30, 2010 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  5. phoenix86

    Two ineffectual leaders jointly deny their irrelevance to the Iranian regime. And the news is?

    March 30, 2010 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  6. John Hennessy Black

    NO ONE, and I really mean, NO ONE, is going to be able to stop Iran from having nuclear power, weapons or anything else they want!

    The arrogant idea(s) of Obama & Sarko, the French idiot, and their need to CONTROL the entire world is very, very bothersome.

    Iran has the RIGHT to have any nuclear power or weapon they want... we have absolutely NO business meddling in the internal affair of any sovereign nation!

    Fix AMERIKA first... then, perhaps, you may make a SUGGESTION to Iran or any nation regarding their country.

    March 30, 2010 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  7. Omar Haleem

    What President Obama states with clarity and simplicity is straight upfront and honest, in contrast Sarkozy talks diplomacy, their language differs and so it does look like Sarkozy is not ready to commit directly, It's a good step forward for the EU to come on board and extend it's cooperation to the US, but they need to appreciate the fact that with Obama they are dealing with less a politician and more someone who speaks directly. I can understand Mr. Sarkozy has to speak for a group of nations, still he should remember that he is a president himself, and it is as much a french perspective that he should emphasize on then a group perspective.

    March 30, 2010 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  8. JML

    Good timing by both leaders. Obama is quickly shifting focus abroad and needs to dispel notions that he has been dismissive of Sarkozy. It is important to align the G5+1 for any action on Iran. Plus, it always miffs the British when the White House gets very friendly with the Continental powers – the "oldest ally" statement seems like a clear retort to the UK MP's who declared the "special relationship" over. Meeting Sarkozy here after securing a disarmament deal with Russia so quickly definitely paints Obama in the role of a leader.

    As for Sarkozy, appearing calm and assertive without being combative on the international stage (he can be friendly with Obama without even thinking about deploying French troops to Afghanistan) makes him seem more in control of his office – so critical after the regional reverses. His Atlanticist attitude may annoy some of his countrymen but if he steers clear of pitfalls and appearing weak, it offers strong long-term advantages, such as genuine leverage against the rising powers of Asia, which is not likely to come form simply working through the tepid EU.

    March 30, 2010 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  9. Len (Colorado)

    JM and Fox,

    You are both exactly right. President Obama keep up the great work!

    March 30, 2010 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  10. Jim Johnson

    What Obama is in the United States?? What's wrong Air Force One needs it's 10 Million mile maintenance???And that's just in one year. It's even harder to believe someone is agreeing with him...I ran is a threat to the whole world, we should have taken out their facilities years ago. Better hurry.

    March 30, 2010 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  11. Bob of Lompoc

    Mr. President, you hold the snail like this, tilt your head back, drop it in your mouth, and say "Gulp".

    March 30, 2010 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  12. Guillermo in L.A., CA

    Sanctions and/or embargos don't work. Have we achieved anything with Cuba or Iraq when we used sanctions? It's pretty much only the average citizens that suffer from the sanctions. Not the government or the leaders of the country who we use sanctions against. I applaude the effort to use diplomacy, but sanctions/embargos don't work.

    March 30, 2010 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  13. JM is a moron

    You guys dont know what you are talking about. Obama and the frog can't hurt iran more than iran has already been hurt.

    March 30, 2010 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  14. Desmond in Canada

    'Sarkozy said France fully supported the U.S. position, and he praised Obama for being an honest partner on all issues facing the international community.

    "His word is his bond, and that is important," Sarkozy said in French, with his comments translated for the media. "No surprises. When he can, he delivers. When he can't, he says so." '

    He also said that all other European leaders felt the same.

    High time ALL US citizens acknowledged the integrity and effectiveness of your President instead of falling prey to the nasty negatitivity being spewed by the pathetic likes of Failin Palin.

    March 30, 2010 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  15. MikeH

    If Bush had been a bit more diplomatic with Iran, this may have been avoided, but now I believe Israel is going to nuke Iran. I don't see how it would be otherwise unless Iran renounces their effort to create weapons-grade fissile material. Not likely to happen unless Russia starts leaning hard on Iran. Iran has too much oil for any embargo or sanction to work, China will always supply them what they want.

    March 30, 2010 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  16. Average American

    What support? Just how many planes and troops is he going to send in? Or should I say, what troops and planes? Let's not forget, ho chi min & ayatollah khomaini both lived in france. Even if they could provide squat, putin & china aren't going along with anything, anyway. Politically, its useless. Israel is the only country that can stop Iran.

    March 30, 2010 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  17. annie against biased news

    From snubbing the French President to now trying to be warm and fuzzy with him? What's up with this?

    March 30, 2010 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  18. Seattle Voter

    Your doing a great job Pres. Obama. I trust you more than any rich politicians. Keep up the good work and continue to promote democracy around the world. WAR is not the answer to everything when foreign countries don't agree with the US.

    March 30, 2010 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  19. Chad from Tampa

    Never thought I would live to see the day when a French President is a stronger leader than our pres.

    March 30, 2010 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
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