White House: Ties with France as Strong under Hollandeإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The White House said Monday that the alliance between France and the United States remained as strong as it had been before the election of new Socialist president Francois Hollande.
Hollande will meet President Barack Obama next week in one of the first acts of a presidency framed by conflicts with Washington over Afghan war policy and other European leaders over how to tackle the euro crisis.
"The alliance is as strong today as it was last week," White House spokesman Jay Carney said, after Sunday's humiliating defeat of President Nicolas Sarkozy, who was widely known for his pro-American views.
Carney said Obama wanted to meet Hollande "because he's just been elected president of one of our oldest allies -- our oldest ally."
He said that Obama, who called Hollande to congratulate him hours after his victory, looked forward to welcoming the new French leader to the NATO and G8 summits in the United States later this month.
There are some concerns in the United States that Hollande's opposition to austerity-led policies could lead to a new round of turmoil and uncertainty in the eurozone crisis, that could impact America's fragile recovery.
"As for the situation in Europe, as the president said just the other day, our economy continues to face some headwinds, and the eurozone crisis is one of them," Carney said.
"European leaders have taken very significant steps toward dealing with that eurozone crisis.
"And the president and (Treasury Secretary Timothy) Geithner and others in the administration will continue to work with European leaders towards that end."
On Monday, Obama telephoned outgoing President Sarkozy, to thank him for his "strong leadership and for his friendship and partnership in challenging times," Carney said.
"He expressed his appreciation for the valued cooperation that has characterized the relationship between the two leaders since January 2009."
Obama also said that he and his wife Michelle sent warm wishes to Sarkozy's wife Carla Bruni, according to Carney.
Hollande says he wants to renegotiate the European Union's fiscal pact in order to complement its austerity rules with more targeted investment in jobs and growth.
His position stands in sharp contrast to that of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a defender of the austerity rules and deficit-cutting targets embedded in the fiscal pact.
But it does echo Obama's support for both growth and economic stability in Europe.
"If Europe is growing, then that benefits the U.S. economy as well," Obama said in February.
However, any steps that would endanger stability in the eurozone or threaten a slump back into a crisis could worry Washington, as Obama seeks to revive the slow U.S. recovery ahead of his reelection fight in November.
Europe's fiscal crisis will be a key issue when Obama hosts the G8 summit of industrialized nations at his Camp David presidential retreat on May 18-19.
At the subsequent NATO summit on May 20 and 21 in Chicago, leaders are due to discuss NATO's plan to hand security control to the Afghans by 2014.
Hollande has pledged to start bringing 3,300 French soldiers home this year, ending his country's combat role two years earlier than NATO. He now has to work hard to reassure allies in the transatlantic military alliance that his plan will not upend the war strategy.
The early French pull-out challenges NATO assurances that there would be no "rush to the exit" in Afghanistan, even though the war is unpopular in the West after a decade of fighting that has killed almost 3,000 foreign troops and has yet to defeat the Taliban despite the presence of 130,000 foreign troops.