Bush and Sarkozy: Leaders Who Lunch

When First Lady Laura Bush heard the French President Nicholas Sarkozy and his wife would be at New Hampshire's Lake Winnipesaukee, just 60 miles away from the Bushes' Maine retreat, she suggested they visit. It's not an international summit by any means, just some powerful world leaders on vacation in New England.

At the last minute this week, Sarkozy had to dash back to Paris to attend the funeral Friday of a French cardinal.

Despite the trans-Atlantic traveling, the White House still expects him at Walker's Point in Maine Saturday, promptly at lunch time.

The visit won't win Sarkozy many points back home. The French loathe President Bush. And Sarkozy's opponents deride him as "Sarko L'Americain" which means "Sarko, The American."

They mock his habit of jogging to keep fit. Too American, they say.

"This new presidency is different from what we had in the past," said Nicholas Barre , Deputy Managing Editor of Le Figaro Magazine. "He wants to be in the media. He talks all the time. He gives interviews. He appears on TV."

Sarkozy even held a news conference on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee. However, he attacked photographers this week when then they tried to snap a picture of him in swim trunks.

"I have as much right to vacation as anyone else," Sarkozy said.

The fact that he chose to vacation in America to begin with was already a sore spot.

"He could have chosen places in France. Many places in France are nice," Parisian resident Cecile Sourd said.

The cost of Sarkozy's holiday, $30,000 a week, before frequent flyer miles, also provoked criticism.

Sarkozy campaigned on a platform of modernizing the French economy -- making it, essentially, more American.

His pro-U.S. approach could bring a welcome change in some eyes, compared to years of frosty relations, especially over Iraq.

White House officials hope closer ties with France could make a difference on a range of foreign policy issues, including Lebanon and Sudan.

The White House describes today's meeting as a "casual lunch," not a working visit. Most of the extended Bush family will be there for the brunch.

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