Tags: sarkozy | merkel | obama | snib

Sarkozy, Merkel Downplay Obama Snub

Thursday, 04 February 2010 10:22 PM EST

PARIS - Barack Obama’s decision to skip a European Union summit is no “tragedy” and not a sign that the US president has lost interest in Europe, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Thursday.

Sarkozy said the US-EU summit could easily be postponed and stressed there were more pressing matters to address in the world than summitry.

“Is this really a tragedy? Is this the only problem we face in the world today? Is it more important than unemployment or the financial crisis?” Sarkozy said at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“We’ve just spent a lot of time in 2009, because of the crisis, holding meetings and travelling the world. I don’t think that this means President Obama is not interested in Europe or that the United States is distancing itself from Europe,” he said.

Many European politicians have downplayed suggestions that Obama had little time for trans-Atlantic relations after the White House announced on Monday that the US president would not attend the summit in Madrid in May.

“My feeling is that there are to many summits, too much travel, too much wasted time,” Sarkozy said.

“So when the president of the United States says ‘let’s do the NATO summit at the same time as the Europe-US summit’, I think it’s rather a good idea.”

The president suggested Obama could come to Europe in November to attend both the NATO alliance and European Union summits.

Analysts have said Obama was unimpressed by the two EU-US summits he attended last year in Prague and Washington, and by the multitude of EU representatives across the table from him.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected suggestions that the EU’s new complex leadership with a rotating presidency, sitting president, an EU commission president and an EU parliament president had caused US enthusiasm to wane.

“This is not what is preventing the American president from making a quick visit to Europe,” said Merkel.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

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Thursday, 04 February 2010 10:22 PM
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