With one hundred days to go before France elects its new President, the two main contenders have been pressing their international credentials. As Shinzo Abe’s European tour draws to a close, the new Japanese Prime Minister met with Segolene Royal, already installed as the Socialist candidiate.
He then met her conservative rival, Nicolas Sarkozy. The current Interior Minister will be officially appointed candidate of his UMP party on Sunday.
Although current President Jacques Chirac has not revealed whether he will run for a third term in office, most analysts believe such a move is unlikely.
Sarkozy has had to endure attacks from his own camp; he was notably snubbed by Chirac and Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, who have both refused to back him.
He received a welcome boost though as he seeks to drum up party unity, when Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie declared her support.