The visit to Moscow has exerted a great influence on the French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarkozy’s attitude to Russia has changed for the better after the official meeting with President Putin.
Sarkozy said that he admired Putin’s courage, intellect and his view and understanding of the modern world. The two presidents discussed such questions as the nuclear program of Iran, the status of Kosovo, human rights issues in Russia and the assassination of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, The Times reports.
Sarkozy started his first visit to Russia in Putin’s residence in the Moscow region. The two presidents had a short conversation and went outside to see the house. Afterwards, the presidents left for dinner. Putin asked the driver of his Mercedes to leave the car and drove his French colleague shotgun away.
It has become obvious now that Nicolas Sarkozy intends to make France a staunch ally of the US administration. The new president of France says that he would like to retrieve France’s membership at NATO. The Foreign Affairs Minister of France Bernard Kouchner states that France must support the USA in Iraq.
Apparently, Sarkozy has fallen into the charms of Putin’s art of diplomacy. The French president said after the talks that France and Russia had bridged some of their differences on the Iran nuclear standoff.
Sarkozy has taken a firm line on Iran in recent months, shifting closer to the United States in his insistence on tough U.N. Security Council sanctions and even his mention of the possibility of war. While the United States and European nations are pressing for greater sanctions, Russia and China have resisted.
"Our positions moved much closer together" on Iran and other sensitive subjects, Sarkozy told reporters during his first presidential visit to Russia . He mentioned "many convergences" on Iran but would not elaborate.
Putin heads to Iran early next week amid heightened international tensions over Tehran 's refusal to suspend uranium enrichment - activity the U.S. claims is aimed at building weapons but Iran insists is for peaceful purposes.
Sarkozy said the two also discussed Kosovo and Putin's political future among several other topics during three hours of talks Tuesday night.
Upon arrival at Putin's forest estate Tuesday night, Sarkozy stayed firm with the Russian president, saying he would defend France's convictions. But he also said he would try to understand Russia, whose relations with Iran and increasing assertiveness have raised global concern.
"I appreciate the strength of your convictions," Sarkozy told Putin. "I think that we can understand each other, because such convictions, I have them too."
Sarkozy added that France wants to be Russia's "friend." Putin responded with an oft-repeated verse from 19th century Russian poet Fyodor Tyutchev: "One cannot understand Russia with the mind. ... One can only believe in it."
Presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak, who was accredited for the press conference by Vladimir Putin from Dozhd (Rain) television channel, asked Putin about competition at the coming election
On December 14, President Putin holds his annual Q&A session with Russian and foreign journalists. This conference is considered to be the beginning of his presidential campaign