Remarks by President Obama and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France After Bilateral Meeting

May 27, 2011

PRESIDENT SARKOZY:  (As translated.)  Ladies and gentlemen, we just had a bilateral with the President of the United States, Barack Obama.  And there’s been major convergence of views on major international issues.

And I told President Obama how much — how sensitive we were to his words in his speech on the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.  It was clear-sighted and bold, what he had to say on the subject.

We completely agreed amongst ourselves on what lessons we draw from the Arab revolutions, the Arab Springs; likewise, on Libya, where we have the same analysis.  Mr. Qaddafi must leave and Libyans are entitled to a democratic future.

And I also wish to thank President Obama for his contribution to the smooth running of this G8 meeting and his involvement to ensure that this multilateral world of ours is run smoothly.

All of France is happy to welcome you, sir, and in particular, the people of Normandy that have certainly not forgotten all that they and we owe the Americans.  For all of us French men and women, and particularly for the people of Normandy, when the President of the United States is standing on this ground, it is particularly significant, because, sadly, there are many young Americans who gave their lives for us, who rest on Normandy soil.  And I think it’s very important to send this message back with you home.  As time passes, we have not forgotten the sacrifices you made.

So it’s always very special when the President of the United States comes to this particular part of France.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, it is wonderful to be back in Normandy.  The last time I was here was at the invitation of the President as we were commemorating the landing at Normandy.

I want to thank President Sarkozy, I want to thank the people of Deauville and the people of France, for the terrific hospitality that they’ve shown us over these last few days.  And I want to thank President Sarkozy for the leadership that he’s shown on the world stage over the last several years.

France is our oldest ally and continues to be one of our closest allies.  And as President Sarkozy indicated, we had an enormous convergence of approaches and views on the challenges that we face around the world.  We agreed that the changes that are taking place in the Middle East and North Africa make the pursuit of peace between Israelis and Palestinians more urgent, not less.  And we agreed to coordinate closely in encouraging the parties to sit down around the negotiating table and to resolve this issue in a way that creates a Palestinian state that is sovereign and an Israeli state that is secure, the two states living side by side in peace.

We agreed that we have made progress on our Libya campaign, but that meeting the U.N. mandate of civilian protection cannot be accomplished when Qaddafi remains in Libya directing his forces in acts of aggression against the Libyan people.  And we are joined in resolve to finish the job.

We discussed the enormous opportunities as well as challenges that are presented by the Arab Spring, and shortly we’ll be discussing in depth how we can fully support countries like Egypt and Tunisia, not only as they transition to democracy but also ensuring that that democratic transition is accompanied by economic growth, which can provide more opportunities for all the people, particularly the young people in the region.

And we also discussed a wide range of issues, from Afghanistan to Iran to the world economy, in which the interests of the United States and the interests of France are closely joined.

So the state of our alliance is strong.  I am grateful for the leadership that President Sarkozy has shown.  And I very much appreciate the productive way in which he’s organized the G8.  I’m confident that as a consequence, we’ll be able to continue to make progress in the coming months on the issues that matter most to the French people and to the American people.

Thank you.