The new diplomacy: Guess who’s not coming to dinner?
The Obamas turn up in Paris this evening, but have declined a dinner invitation from the couple next door: the Sarkozys.
President Obama’s reluctance to spend more than minimum time with the French leader on his visit for the D-Day anniversary has come as an embarrassment to the Elysée Palace.
America’s First Family will not be dining with President Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni, even though they are staying at the residence of the US Ambassador, yards from the Elysée apartments where the Sarkozys spend their weekends.
Mr Sarkozy’s staff were trying yesterday to arrange another private moment between the couples. Mr Obama is due to fly back to Washington tomorrow night or on Sunday.
But hey, it’s not just Sarko being snubbed. It’s Angela, too!
French worries about being snubbed were matched in Germany, where media and politicians are convinced that the brevity of Mr Obama’s trip there and a decision to avoid Berlin demonstrated his disapproval of Angela Merkel, the Chancellor.
I wonder if Angela and Sarko’s Wiis are gold-plated.
Somewhere in Georgia, Jimmy Carter is grateful.
It gets worse,
The White House’s coolness has added to embarrassment at the Elysée Palace over the way they have bungled what Sarkozy wanted to be a supreme Franco-American moment in Paris and especially Normandy. The final straw for Paris was the White House’s undiplomatic public reproach this week to Sarkozy for failing to invite the British Queen to the 6th of June ceremony.
Obama is turning up in Paris on Friday evening, but spending the evening privately with Michelle and his entourage. He is not due to see Sarkozy and Carla Bruni at the Elysée. Their only tête-à-tête will be in the Normandy town of Caen on Saturday. The Americans have refused a French request for the two men to hold a joint press conference. The D-Day ceremony at the US cemetery at Colleville, by Omaha beach, has now been widened to include Britain’s Gordon Brown and Prince Charles and Stephen Harper, the Canadian Prime Minister. Then Michelle Obama is staying on in Paris on a private visit for several days.