Sarkozy begins state visit to Britain

March 27th, 2008 - 12:24 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Gordon Brown
London, March 26 (DPA) Britain and France should begin a new era of cooperation, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Wednesday as Sarkozy arrived in Britain on a two-day official state visit, the first by a French head of state in 12 years. Sarkozy and his wife Carla - who was subjected to ironic scrutiny by a tabloid paper publishing an old picture of her posing naked in her modelling days - were welcomed at London’s Heathrow airport by Prince Charles and wife Camilla.

The group headed off to Windsor Castle for official welcoming ceremonies with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

The French leader has called on Britain and France to work “hand in glove” on issues like illegal immigration and terrorism, and to forge “a new Franco-British brotherhood”.

Ahead of the visit, Sarkozy called for closer Franco-British ties, telling British broadcaster BBC that both countries should perhaps “move from being cordial to being friendly”.

“It has been long enough now that we have not been at war, that we are not wrangling,” Sarkozy said.

Sarkozy said the friendship between Britain and France “shouldn’t simply be a matter of principle”, but one that is “fleshed out by concrete projects on the economy, immigration, security, defence”.

Prime Minister Brown said in an interview published Wednesday in the French daily Le Monde that Britain and France will work “hand in hand” to reform international institutions such as the United Nations.

Brown said that he and Sarkozy had worked together for years, when they were both finance ministers, “and we have the same vision of a globalised world”.

Brown went on to say: “France and Britain can therefore work hand in hand with common interests and shared values. This is the case, and you will see it in the coming weeks, of the reform of international institutions created in 1945: the UN, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund.”

These organizations, Brown said, “no longer correspond to the challenges of 2008.”

A meeting between Sarkozy and Brown at Downing Street is scheduled for Thursday.

The talks are expected to range from the issue of the turbulence in financial markets and energy security to the engagement in Afghanistan.

Sarkozy has said France is willing to send more troops to Afghanistan.

French-British ties under Sarkozy and Brown’s predecessors, Jacques Chirac and Tony Blair, were fraught as a result of the Iraq war.

Sarkozy was to deliver a speech before both houses of parliament in London on Wednesday afternoon before setting out for a state banquet at Windsor.

Meanwhile a British tabloid, the Daily Mirror, printed Wednesday a 1993 photograph of a naked Carla under the headline “Welcome to Great Britain, Madame Sarkozy”.

A day earlier, the auction house Christie’s had announced plans to auction the photograph made when Carla was a fashion model.

A rival tabloid, the Sun, said the model was “outraged” that the photo was being published on the same day that she and her husband were being received by the British queen.

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