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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 March 2008, 13:21 GMT
Style dominates Sarkozy visit coverage

President Nicolas Sarkozy's visit to London is being billed as the start of a new era in Anglo-French relations. But much of the media focus on both sides of the Channel has been on style. Here is a look at coverage in the British and French newspapers.

ON STYLE

Not since Anne Boleyn has a woman curtseyed so deeply, so demurely, or so calculatedly before a British monarch, writes Amanda Platell in the Daily Mail.

And the comparisons do not end there, as Fleet Street clears acres of space for the state visit of what the Independent calls France's "bling bling president" and his wife.

The Times - beside a black and white photograph of Carla Bruni-Sarkozy leaving the presidential plane in her grey Dior overcoat and matching pillbox hat - says she went for a look that was "part Jackie Onassis, part district nurse".

The Independent points out that the French head of state is very small. He looks like Charles Aznavour and gesticulates like an Italian traffic policeman.

The French press is, on the whole, complimentary. Le Figaro approves of Carla Bruni-Sarkozy's "delightful little hat".

But the left-leaning Liberation highlights Mr Sarkozy's nervous ticks - an involuntary movement of the shoulders for example - and says he babbled like a child to the Queen at those moments when he had been advised to stay silent.

For Le Monde, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy goes down better than her husband and it likens the pomp to "transcendental bling bling".

ON THE 'ENTENTE CORDIALE'

For Mr Sarkozy, French relations with Britain have now developed beyond the century-old "Entente Cordiale" into an "Entente Amicale".

In the Guardian, Timothy Garton Ash says Britain has never had a cross-Channel offer better than this - an anglophile French president who is determined to add Britain to the Franco-German axis inside the EU, who is pro-American and seeks common ground for action on immigration, climate change, development and security.

"Britain would be mad not to seize it with both hands", he writes.

A downbeat Daily Telegraph says Mr Sarkozy's ardent appeal for deeper British involvement in Europe will have been less welcome and concludes that "the excitement generated by the Sarkozys' visit will soon give way to prosaic confirmation of the old divides".

Both countries could profit enormously from closer co-operation, according to the Financial Times. "In spite of the two countries' mutual suspicions there is more to unite than divide them," says its editorial.

In Paris, Le Monde reminds readers that Mr Sarkozy has spoken warmly of better relations before, in his previous incarnations as interior and finance minister.

The regional Ouest France newspaper says that in the Balkans, in Africa and in areas where Britain and France are involved in peacekeeping, fraternity has become a reality.

But, cautions the paper, "fraternity between two peoples on the human and political level, who admire but still distrust each other, is still some way off".

ON LEADERSHIP

Mr Sarkozy's dip in popularity at home is touched on by British commentators.

For the Times, the coverage of the French president's dinner with the Queen may have helped him "at the start of a long climb back into favour" with the French.

The Guardian suggests that Mr Sarkozy has more to gain from the visit than Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

"His presidency urgently needed to acquire dignity, statesmanship, a sense of distance from the cut and thrust of politics, not an inextricable entanglement in them," it says.

For Le Monde, Mr Sarkozy's stay will play an important role in his standing outside France and is key to his international ambitions.

The last word goes to a less appreciative Daily Express in London.

"French President Sarkozy yesterday delivered a major speech on relations between our two countries. Can anyone remember a word he said? And will anyone forget the sight of his enchanting wife. Sorry Monsieur President but you'd better get used to being the supporting act."



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