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Sarkozy and Obama to give joint interview

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Sarkozy and Obama to give joint interview
12:19 CET+01:00

US president Barack Obama will appear alongside French president Nicolas Sarkozy on both main 8pm nightly news programmes in France on Friday evening for a 15-minute interview.

The appearance will be a first for a US head of state and the interview will be conducted by the two main news anchors, Laurence Ferrari and David Pujadas.

According to Pujadas, the request to appear on the evening bulletins came from the White House.

"The main impetus for this came from the US and the wish of Barack Obama," he told Le Figaro newspaper. "It's a way for the American president to send a strong message to France and the French."

The newspaper quoted French government sources as confirming the interview was "a request of the Americans who want to show the vitality of the French-American relationship. Naturally, we accepted right away."

The joint interview marks a step forward in the relationship between the two presidents, which has been reported as less than cordial in the past.

Shortly after Obama came to power, Sarkozy was reported as criticizing the US president at a lunch in April 2009.

"There are numerous things on which he [Obama] hasn't got a position and… he is not always up to scratch with decisions and efficiency," one guest told the Guardian newspaper Sarkozy said at the time.

The American president appeared to get his revenge a few months later in June that year when he attended France for a commemoration of the D-Day landings but refused an additional bilateral meeting with Sarkozy.

The relationship appeared to be back on solid ground this week, with President Obama congratulating the French president on his new daughter and even joking that he hoped she would have her mother's looks, rather than her father's. 

For the French president, the opportunity to appear alongside the US president could give a boost to his image as a world statesman at a time when he is languishing in the polls behind his main rival for the presidency, François Hollande. Presidential elections are planned for April 2012, although Sarkozy has not yet officially announced he will be running.

The interview is unlikely to be live and will be recorded on Friday afternoon at the G20 summit in Cannes.

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