The News from France
By Liz Heron
On the day Barack Obama meets with world leaders in Strasbourg, the French press is consumed with the growing fallout from the G-20 offensive against tax havens, while examining the influence of the "Obama method" of foreign policy. Newspapers also debated the wisdom of Nicolas Sarkozy's decision to return to NATO at a time when the U.S. is asking for more troop commitments in Afghanistan.
Le Monde explores how Obama's foreign policy style is emerging on his first international trip. The "Obama method," Le Monde notes, is defined by facilitation and compromise. In contrast to George Bush, Obama operates "almost in the background," trying not to focus too much attention on the U.S.'s positions, because the message, after George Bush, must be that he is listening, not telling.
La Tribune says that in the wake of the G-20 offensive against tax havens, some European countries are furious about being named on two targeted lists, a "gray" list countries on the verge of ending bank secrecy and a "black" list for so-called non-cooperative nations.
Libération says Luxembourg, Switzerland and Belgium are responding particularly badly and are worried they will be ostracized by the international community. The newspaper says China was clearly the winner in the Obama-brokered compromise between France and China to include some European countries but leave Chinese territories such as Hong Kong and Macao off the list.
In Le Fiagro, Dominique de Villepin asserts that French president Nicolas Sarkozy's decision to return France to NATO is a step backwards. NATO provided solutions to the problems of the past, but is ill equipped to take on the challenges of the new multi-polar world, she says. She takes Sarkozy to task for turning his back on a "national consensus" against participating in NATO, which France left in 1966.
Libération blogs about conflict between police and anti-NATO protests in downtown Strasbourg -- where Obama was meeting with Sarkozy -- and says the city is covered by security forces. Nearly 10,000 police are patrolling the town square, and airspace and rivers are under surveillance to protect Strasbourg against what Interior Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie called a "major terrorist risk."
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