Riding Obama's Coattails, Overseas
By Glenn Kessler
With President Obama winning sky-high approval ratings around the world, foreign leaders can only hope to catch a little of his pixie dust and boost sagging approval ratings by demonstrating how close they are to one of the world's most popular politicians.
Case in point: a change in the pro forma announcements of presidential phone calls.
Obama today called both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicholas Sarkozy, and the overseas accounts of those calls is far more laudatory and detailed than such missives released during the Bush presidency. (Perhaps because Bush's approval ratings overseas were always lower than those of European leaders, so helping him could only do them political damage.) Note especially the use of such words as "hailed," "courageous," "warm," "friendly," and "trust."
The press release from the French:
President Obama called the President of the Republic this evening.
During their warm conversation, which lasted half an hour, they spoke substantively about several major international issues.
The economic and financial crisis, a priority issue: Both presidents agreed on the need to act resolutely and to work together closely with a view to the next G20 summit in London. The Middle East: President Obama applauded France's decisive action during the Gaza crisis and told President Sarkozy that his special envoy, George Mitchell, would stop in Paris on his way to the Middle East. President Sarkozy will receive him on that occasion.
Afghanistan: President Sarkozy hailed President Obama's determination to define a new global strategy with his allies -- a strategy at once military, economic and political -- assuring him that France would stand united with its allies. The upcoming NATO summit in Strasbourg-Kehl in early April: Both presidents agreed to do everything they could to make it a great success for the Atlantic Alliance.
At the start of their conversation, President Sarkozy welcomed the courageous measures taken by President Obama the day after his inauguration, particularly the announcement of the upcoming closing of Guantanamo. These measures responded to strong expectations in Europe, and France stands ready to help the United States to implement them.
And from the Germans:
German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel and U.S. President Barack Obama around noon (ET) had an in-depth and friendly telephone conversation, which followed on their meeting in July in Berlin and their conversation after Barack Obama's election victory as president.
The phone call focused on the economic and financial crisis. The two leaders agreed that close international cooperation, particularly also the G-20 summit taking place in London on April 2, was crucial in overcoming the crisis. Other topics addressed in the talk included the NATO summit in Strassbourg/Kehl, Afghanistan, the Middle East, and climate change.
The president and chancellor also concurred on the need for close transatlantic cooperation, saying it was indispensable in facing the current challenges. The U.S. Administration and the German Government agreed to coordinate intensively and in a spirit of trust on all pending issues.
Posted at 4:32 PM ET on Jan 26, 2009
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