Paris (AFP) May 06, 2007
President-elect Nicolas Sarkozy said Sunday that the United States can count on friendship from France but urged Washington to show leadership in the struggle against global warming. Sarkozy, who won Sunday's presidential election to succeed Jacques Chirac, said "a great nation like the United States has the duty to not create obstacles in the struggle against global warming."
"Quite the contrary, it should take the lead in this battle because what is at stake is all of humanity," said the rightwinger, who won 53 percent of the vote, according to projections.
"France will make this battle it's first battle," he said.
The Republican administration of US President George W. Bush has refused to adopt the Kyoto treaty against climate change, arguing the economic costs would be crippling and the science remained unclear.
Bush had telephoned Sarkozy to congratulate him, a White House spokesman said.
"The United States and France are historic allies and partners. President Bush looks forward to working with President-elect Sarkozy as we continue our strong alliance," said Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the White House National Security Council.
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There was a high turnout estimated at about 85 percent by polling institutes which highlighted the widespread interest in the election of a new generation of French leaders after President Jacques Chirac's 12 year rule.
Delirious members of the ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) chanted "Nicolas - President!" as champagne bottles popped at the party's campaign headquarters.
"Now is the time for me to give back to France what France has given to me," Sarkozy said in a victory speech. "Together we are going to write a new page of history. The page, I am sure, will be great and it will be beautiful."
At the Socialist Party headquarters, Royal supporters, many in tears, gloomily digested a third consecutive presidential defeat after 1995 and 2002.
Royal, who had hoped to be France's first woman president, conceded victory, saying: "I gave it all I had and will continue to be with you and close to you."
World leaders were quick to acknowledge Sarkozy as the new French leader.
US President George W. Bush telephoned Sarkozy to congratulate him on his victory within an hour of the projections being announced, said a White House spokesman.
Some hope for a new era in relations after the frostiness caused by Chirac's opposition to the Iraq war.
Sarkozy said the United States can count on friendship from France but urged Washington to show leadership in the struggle against global warming.
Sarkozy said "a great nation like the United States has the duty to not create obstacles in the struggle against global warming."
He added: "France will make this battle it's first battle."
"The United States and France are historic allies and partners. President Bush looks forward to working with president-elect Sarkozy as we continue our strong alliance," the White House spokesman said.
Chirac also telephoned his successor to congratulate him on success, his office said.
Thousands gathered on the historic Place de la Concorde in central Paris where Sarkozy was to appear before crowds and veteran French rocker Johnny Hallyday was to headline a special concert.
Police renforcements were deployed around the capital to head off the risk of unrest by youths from high immigrants areas where there were riots in 2005.
On the last day of the campaign Royal -- slipping badly in opinion polls -- had issued a stark warning that a Sarkozy victory would trigger "violence and brutality" across the country.
Sarkozy will take over from Chirac on May 16, and has promised to act quickly to enact key items of his manifesto.
After legislative elections in June -- in which he will seek a clear majority for the UMP and its allies -- he plans a special National Assembly session to set off his reform drive.
These include the abolition of tax on overtime, swingeing cuts in inheritance tax, a law guaranteeing minimum service in transport strikes, and rules to oblige the unemployed to take up offered work.
On the social front he has pledged minumum jail terms for serial offenders and tougher rules to make it harder for immigrants to bring extended families to France.
The son of a Hungarian aristocrat and the grandson of a Greek Jew, Sarkozy will be the first French president of immigrant stock. He entered politics in the 1970s as a follower of Chirac, and in the last five years has been interior and finance minister in the centre-right government.
Sarkozy's campaign was based on the theme of "la rupture" -- a clean break from policies of past governments, which he blamed for creating France's runaway debt, high unemployment and festering discontent in the high-immigration suburbs.
His right-wing programme was in sharp contrast to Royal's promise to extend state protection via the creation of 500,000 public sector jobs and an increased minimum wage.
The socialist defeat was expected to trigger bitter recrimination in the party -- where many senior figures initially opposed Royal's candidacy -- as well as speculation about a possible realignment of the French left.
Sarkozy and Royal qualified from the first multi-candidate round of the election on April 22.
The crux of the second round campaign was Wednesday's televised debate, in which Royal aggressively attacked Sarkozy, at one point accusing him of "political immorality".
Commentators said that despite a close rapport with the public, Royal never established herself as a credible president. Her programme was widely perceived as unrealistic, and many reacted badly to her last-minute warnings of violence if Sarkozy won.
"This is a turning-point for France. A lot of people may not like Nicolas Sarkozy personally, but they thought first that he was much better than his opponent and second that his strategy is the right one for the country," said Dominique Moisi of the French Institute for International Relations.
Source: Agence France-Presse
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Bangkok (AFP) May 06, 2007
Huge questions remain over China's commitment and ability to combat global warming after the surging Asian power bruised and cajoled but also charmed delegates at a UN conference, observers said. China was one of the nations most under focus at the climate change meeting in Bangkok that wrapped up on Friday with a message that the world had just a few years to act if it was to avert the worst impacts of global warming.
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