Sarkozy ends Russian visit - with mixed results

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Sarkozy ends Russian visit - with mixed results

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It was his trickiest foreign trip yet as France’s president and, now that Nicolas Sarkozy’s Russian excursion is over, he can content himself with mixed results.

While differences remain on foreign policy, both Sarkozy and his host Vladimir Putin are backing strengthened economic ties.

“France’s policy is transparency and reciprocity,” Sarkozy told a joint news conference.

“I have told President Putin of the readiness of French investors to enter the capital of big Russian companies, for example Gazprom,” he added, evoking Russia’s gas giant.

In the past, European appeals for a liberalisation of Russia’s tightly-controlled energy sector have met a cool response.

On the Iranian nuclear stand-off, clear disagreements remain. Russia, unlike France and other Western powers, does not favour new UN sanctions.

Saying there was no real evidence of Iran’s will to develop nuclear weapons, President Putin added that he shared partners’ concerns about the need for greater transparency.

Before leaving, Sarkozy met members of a group called “Memorial”, known for denouncing Russia’s record on human rights.