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/ 30 March 2008

Prospect of French Nato return tilts power balance

The prospect of France returning to Nato’s military command after more than four decades of estrangement is tilting the balance of transatlantic relations. The United States is courting France as a new partner in leadership, overshadowing Britain and Germany, diplomats and analysts say, even though President Nicolas Sarkozy is likely to skirt the reintegration issue at this week’s Bucharest summit.

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/ 12 March 2008

France’s last World War I veteran dies at 110

France’s last surviving veteran of World War I, an Italian immigrant who fought in the trenches with the Foreign Legion, has died at the age of 110, the president’s office said on Wednesday. Lazare Ponticelli, who joined his adopted country’s army at the outbreak of the war with Germany in 1914, had attended a memorial ceremony as recently as November 2007.

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/ 21 November 2007

France’s Chirac targeted in corruption probe

A French judge has placed former president Jacques Chirac under formal investigation for embezzlement of public funds during his time as mayor of Paris, Chirac’s lawyer Jean Veil said on Wednesday. Chirac, who lost his immunity from prosecution after stepping down as president in May, has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

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/ 14 November 2007

France hit by transport chaos

France was plunged into travel chaos for the second time in a month on Wednesday as striking railway unions staged a show of strength against the economic reforms of President Nicolas Sarkozy. Nationwide fewer than one-quarter of trains were running normally — and only 90 out 700 TGV fast trains.

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/ 8 November 2007

Bush, Sarkozy find common ground against Iran

The United States and French presidents forged a common front against Iran’s nuclear ambitions on Wednesday, signalling a further warming of once-chilly relations between Washington and Paris. US President George Bush and French President Nicolas Sarkozy agreed to keep the pressure on Tehran, which has defied demands to halt uranium enrichment.

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/ 25 October 2007

Africa’s gendarme France not hanging up baton yet

France is trying to shed its reputation as ”Africa’s policeman” but, despite efforts to involve European partners in peacekeeping missions, there are no signs it will hang up its baton just yet. France won backing last month for an European Union force to be deployed soon in east Chad and Central African Republic, where it already has troops stationed.

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/ 11 October 2007

Keeping a lid on Putin’s resurgent Russia

Russia’s latest outburst of passive-aggressive paranoia, aimed at Britain in particular, may reflect a realisation in the Kremlin that Western resistance to its perceived bullying of neighbours, disdain for civil and human rights, and cut-throat energy policy is growing after years of blind eyes, held noses and wishful thinking.

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/ 13 September 2007

German frustration with French leader mounts

Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy were expected to form the perfect couple — a pair of like-minded conservative leaders who would work hand in hand to heal Europe after its Iraq divisions and failed constitution. From his first day in office the Frenchman’s bullish diplomacy has grated on his German partners.

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/ 5 September 2007

Mandela, Chirac discuss charity work

Former French president Jacques Chirac on Wednesday discussed his plans to set up a foundation with Nelson Mandela, who is on a private visit to France to raise funds for his charity institutes. Chirac is, in the coming months, to launch a foundation devoted to the environment and promoting understanding among cultures.

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/ 4 September 2007

France succumbs to rugby mania

While most French presidents have avoided sport, Nicolas Sarkozy prides himself on televised jogging sessions, cheering the Tour de France and appearing in the stands of the Paris Saint Germain football team. Now he is reinventing himself as a rugby fan to take maximum political advantage of the World Cup that begins in France on Friday.