March 30th, 2010
05:38 PM ET
13 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. Fox lost me at freedom fries

    First of all, the President Obama met with the French President here in the United States, so everyone who is going to complain about the president taking another trip should be quiet. Second, no apologies or concessions were made so please keep your "who did he apologize to now" rants to yourself. Third, read the final line...great work Mr. President! Keep using diplomacy to make a case for a united front against Iran.

    March 30, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  2. JM

    I think the ship has already sailed in terms of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. They will have to be neutralized to prevent full blown arnageddon and it will be very messy and very costly – unless a regime change can be exacted from within. Not likely at this point. The time to have dealt with Iran was during the Gulf war, when they were weak, scared, and depleted militarily after the 8 year war with Iraq. Any pretext should have been used back then. The U.S. and its allies would have been much further ahead invading Iran instead of Iraq. Iran has always been the bigger threat to Middle East (and world) instability.

    March 30, 2010 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  3. T'SAH from Virginia

    @JM and @ Fox lost me at freedom fries –
    Even though I agree with you and what you are saying makes a lot of sense – to sensible people that is – watch all of the HATE that follows!!!

    We, as American people, need to stop the HATE and blog support and/or positive criticism that would support the President of the United States and let the world see how our country is together!!

    Lately – it's been BAD!!!

    March 30, 2010 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  4. Nathan

    Russia is willing to help because Iran is already well on their way to obtaining nukes. Something about closing the barn door after the horse is already out.

    March 30, 2010 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  5. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Keep up the good work Obama. Unlike the Freedom Fries corrupt regime led by traitors Cheney , Rove and company...Obama is very popular with our European allies and even helped recruit more NATO troops to get sent to Afganistan.

    March 30, 2010 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  6. Mike, Dallas

    I agree with JM. The time to deal with Iran was back during the Gulf War. Iran is growing stronger with each day and we shouldn't be surprised.. We had the chance to go after the real bad guy 'IRAN' and we chose to go after IRAQ.. really????
    And on a side note; do you not find it interesting that Russia has been meeting with Iran developing a "friendship". hmmmmmm does"t take a rocket scientist to figure this out.. Or in this case, a nuclear specialist.

    March 30, 2010 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  7. Hawkeye

    JM is right on with his comments. We will have to let the Israelis do our dirty work for us (hopefully). Unlike both Republican AND Democrat Administrations, they don't give a flip what the UN says or does.

    March 30, 2010 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  8. Hoover

    President Obama,

    So many americans are proud of the dignified way you've handled your position. Keep up the good work.

    March 30, 2010 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  9. TruthTellerJohn

    I think Iran should given the oppurtunity to acquire Nuclear Weapon as soon as possible. Israel has it. Once both of them get it, one will take care of the other. We will be then off the hook...THIS IS CALLED BALANCE OF POWER!!!

    March 30, 2010 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |

    FIRST, I would have taken Iran out by now. I would liberated the people just like we did in Iraq.

    Second, This would free up Afghn. I would have dropped a few nukes over there. War over. You would find Bin Laden.

    Disagree with me all you want. I know I'm right.

    March 30, 2010 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  11. Bill

    This is for "Fox lost me at freedom fries". No one is bashing your President brother. Stop being so defensive for Obama. However, I do agree with JM's comment. The discussion about Iran with nukes is over. Diplomacy only works if both sides are reasonable. Clearly Iran is bent on getting nukes and nothing will make them think otherwise. All this diplomacy has led us to the fact that Iran now has nukes. More diplomacy will eventually lead us to a more devastating outcome of a nuke was used on Israel or one sold to an extreme group that used it on American citizens. All these talks, all these sanctions, all this diplomacy has resulted in what? Tell me, what exactly are your expectations for staying on this course? If you can tell me of one, just one positive outcome from all these years of talks, sanctions and diplomacy with Iran, then I'll root for your continuted path of diplomacy. Otherwise, wake up to reality and do something before it's too late.

    March 30, 2010 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  12. POD

    Let Iran get the bomb.....then look them dead in the eye and dare them to use their bluff

    March 30, 2010 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  13. Brandon

    I think JM is spot on; Iran already has access to the materials and technology they need to build nuclear weapons. It's just a matter of time until they build this stuff; not IF, but when. I'm betting the NATO member states are gearing up to implement their contingency plan; I'd be shocked if Obama was too blind to see diplomacy and sanctions won't work here.

    March 30, 2010 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  14. Sly

    I think it's good to see the US and France back in agreement on things, talking to each other constructively, instead of the political equivalent of mud slinging like it was during the Bush Years of Failure.

    March 30, 2010 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  15. jojomcgee

    Mr. Obama has done everything possible to assure that Iran gets the bomb. This gives future generations of Americans one more reason to curse the name OBAMA.

    March 30, 2010 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  16. Kenneth

    We've heard so much propaganda about how the world as we know it will be obliterated if Iran gets nukes. But consider that it might actually be a force of stability in Middle East. (I know, you're reeling with shock, disbelief, and outrage over such a crazy suggestion–but bear with me.) A primary reason there are radicalized Muslims is a blowback reaction to Israel (a nuclear power) being able to ride roughshod over anyone it pleases, and absolutely making life unbearably miserable for many Arabs. If Iran possessed the military & tactical muscle to make Israel pull back on its expansion and treat its neighbors with a little more respect, there would be less radicalism. D├ętente succeeded between the US and the Soviet Union in part because both sides were armed to the teeth and everyone understood the premise of "mutually assured destruction." Iran is the product of a very old and highly developed civilization; the best and the brightest in the country would act with restraint. "But what about Ahmadinejad?!!!?" you ask. He is a powerless puppet who likes to make a lot of noise in the playground. I agree that the theocracy in Iran is not good (theocracy is never good), but most Iranians agree on that point too. A change IS coming there. And a democratized, nuclear Iran may ultimately be the best thing that's happened in the Mideast in a long time.

    March 30, 2010 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  17. Sean

    "great work Mr. President! Keep using diplomacy to make a case for a united front against Iran"

    Yes, because Iran cares what everyone else thinks.

    March 30, 2010 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  18. simplefact

    He might not be yours but I'm proud of my president, Barack Obama!

    Yes, we should have stopped Iran (not Iraq) years ago but mark my word, we will sock it to the Taliban/Al Qaeda & we will contain Iran!


    March 30, 2010 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  19. GL

    In agreement with JM, Iran has been a threat since the so-called revolution where the American embassy was invaded. What goes unsaid is that the invasion was an invasion of American territory and should have been dealt with as such at that time. As for the acquisition of nuclear weapons and sanctions, that ship has truly sailed. Sanctions should still be applied but in my opinion what is really needed is a tough declaration which states that should any nuclear weapon be used by terrorists anywhere in the world, then the Allies will destroy Iran in return with the same type of weapons. This should dissuade them in their push to gain these weapons and also have them ensure that these weapons are never used in this way. The only drawback is how Israel would use this to their advantage.

    March 30, 2010 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  20. Willie12345

    CNN refuses to provide news on border killing of US rancher for political reasons !

    March 30, 2010 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  21. AngryVoter

    Invading Iran is idiocy. Unless Iran attacks first you can't simply decide to invade. what is your excuse for war? WMD? When has Iran ever used a WMD?

    March 30, 2010 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  22. tdizzle

    Oh fantastic....more sanctions. This administration will still be trying to use sanctions as nukes are flying through the air. Brilliant. They've passed 27 rounds of sanctions, and can pass another 412 if they want, but it does nothing when Russia and China just circumvent those to give Iran what it needs. Obama just doesn't get it. While they're busy "meeting" to "propose" a "possible amendment" that might "signal" a willingness to "move forward" in "electing a council" that "draws up a plan" to "make a suggestion" that we should "pass a resolution" that is "nonbinding but highly suggestive" that Iran "could stop now"- if they want to- or else we'll "assemble again" to "think about "drawing up another proposal.....Iran will be finishing work on the nukes.

    March 30, 2010 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  23. lisa

    How come nobody is commenting on Sarcozy remarks regarding Israel. Did everyone at CNN get the White houses talking points this a.m. Your bias towards this President is evident. Do your jobs kids

    March 30, 2010 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  24. Old Vet

    Iran with nuclear weapons isn't any more dangerous to the region than Israel having them. According to US law we should not even be trading with Israel never mind giving them the massive aid they get if Israel has weapons.
    No one in the US military thinks invading Iran is a good idea. It is much larger than Iraq in population and contrary to what you might think the weapons program is widely supported even among Iranian opposition groups.

    March 30, 2010 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  25. Gerry NH

    Well Obama has onlt talked & talked & talked on this. He needs to form another committe and spend another year talking about this. Maybe by then Iran will have there little bomb.

    March 30, 2010 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
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