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by RAY FLEMING
THERE had been complaints in advance that the State Visit to Britain of the President of France and his wife was too short. But Nicolas Sarkozy packed more into it than most Heads of State do in a visit twice as long. Not only did he deliver an eloquent tribute to Britain for the role it had played in World War Two sixty-five years ago, he insisted that today “We need Britain to get France moving in Europe”. Nor did he disappoint in showing us the brusque and unbuttoned Sarkozy when a French journalist from Le Figaro suggested at a press conference that he had been eclipsed in the British public's attention by his wife, the glamorous Carla: “Thank you Mr Jeudy for the huge progress you have made in speaking the language of Shakespeare,” came the reply, “That you should have put that question shows that you don't know what marriage means.” As usual on these occasions there was not much substance to the political dimension of the State Visit. Nonetheless the President indicated that France and Britain would find common ground on a range of subjects from nuclear power to immigration. However there was one moment of discord on attitudes to a boycott of the Beijing Olympics; Mr Sarkozy said he did not rule that out for France whereas Gordon Brown has already dismissed the idea. For the moment, though, it is not just the entente cordiale, or entente amicable, but the entente formidable also.