Barack Obama, on the next-to-last stop of his high-profile foreign tour, today praised France's role in fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan and negotiating with Iran on nuclear weapons.
At a joint news conference with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the kind of event typically reserved for heads of state, Obama said he was "very appreciative" of Sarkozy's commitment to the relationship with the United States and broader relationship between America and Europe.
The two can accomplish far more if they "join in common cause," Obama said.
He also warned Iran not to wait for the next American president to negotiate to give up any nuclear weapons program.
Sarkozy told reporters that he and Obama found a "tremendous convergence of views" on the Middle East, Iraq, and other issues, and said he cannot wait for the US election.
UPDATE: Randy Schuenemann, a senior foreign policy adviser to McCain, said in a statement, “Last month, Barack Obama disparaged European diplomatic efforts with Iran as ‘outsourcing.’ Today, Barack Obama urged Iran to accept the incentives package proposed by the European Union and avoided any mention of his unconditional Presidential summitry. Barack Obama’s inexperience is on global display: He mouthed one position last month, but advocated John McCain’s responsible position today. Does Barack Obama pick and choose his positions out of inexperience or does he just play to his audience?”
Sarkozy was effusive in his praise of Obama, though he added, "Of course it's not up to the French to choose the next president of the United States."
Obama joked that when Sarkozy visited Washington before he was elected president, the only US senators he met with were Obama and Republican rival John McCain -- so Sarkozy has a nose for politics.
McCain has also praised Sarkozy and other leaders in Europe, who he said are more friendly to America than their predecessors.
Asked by a French reporter whether popularity in his country might hurt him in the United States, Obama said it's time to move beyond caricatures on both sides.
"The average American has enormous affection for the French people," he said, and understand the importance of improving trans-Atlantic ties.
Asked another question with criticism of President Bush, Obama reminded the reporter that he isn't president and that there is a protocol of not criticizing a sitting president while abroad.
"We have one president at a time," Obama said.
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.