France, US Declare Renewed Alliance On Eve Of French President’s Visit
President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande have co-authored an op-ed in The Washington Post outlining their “renewed alliance,” which they say is no more evident than the nations’ cooperation in Africa.
“Perhaps nowhere is our new partnership on more vivid display than in Africa. In Mali, French and African Union forces — with U.S. logistical and information support — have pushed back al-Qaeda-linked insurgents, allowing the people of Mali to pursue a democratic future. Across the Sahel, we are partnering with countries to prevent al-Qaeda from gaining new footholds. In the Central African Republic, French and African Union soldiers — backed by American airlift and support — are working to stem violence and create space for dialogue, reconciliation and swift progress to transitional elections,” the leaders write.
The presidents also pointed to the fight to combat AIDS and to “strengthen democratic institutions, improve agriculture and alleviate hunger, expand access to electricity and deliver the treatment that saves lives from infectious diseases.”
US-France Defense Alliance Has Deepened In Recent Years
The comity reflected in the Posted was reminiscent of the collegiality demonstrated in January when Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel met with his French counterpart, French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian. Hagel characterized France as “America’s oldest ally” and stated that the “defense partnership continues to be one of great importance” in Europe and globally.
“Throughout it all, France has been a key partner for the administration on counterterrorism and larger intelligence operations. It’s not a coincidence that despite having much to complain about themselves from the NSA spying revelations, Hollande has said very little to criticize Obama on Edward Snowden’s behalf,” says Dovere.
Hollande Will Address Areas Of Contention During Visit
While Hollande and Obama stressed areas of agreement, UPI reporter Martin Walker notes there will be points of contention raised during Hollande’s visit to the US, including the failure of tech giant to fully pay income taxes in France.
Google France reported revenue of $264 million in 2012, but paid only $8.9 million in tax. France has taken a hardline against tax evasion suing Amazon for $250 million in back taxes – a fate which may await Google France.
Trade Agreements On Agenda, But Obama Faces Blowback From Democrats
Trade agreements will also be on the agenda, which is an issue that is also prickly for Obama domestically.
“And Hollande will raise another tricky issue, the prospects for the Trans-Atlanic Trade and investment Partnership after U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., challenged Obama by opposing fast-track authority for the president to negotiate trade deals and then present Congress with a simple yes-no vote.
“Most of Europe wants the TTIP, which the EU Commission estimates TTIP deal would increase the size of the EU economy by around $160 billion (or 0.5 percent of gross domestic product) a year and the United States by $130 billion (or 0.4 percent of GDP),” Walker reports.
Many Democrats in Congress have long opposed broad trade pacts, including NAFTA and also reauthorizing fast-track trade authority.