President Nicolas Sarkozy has left plunging poll ratings at home for a high-profile meeting with Barack Obama at the White House.
Joined by his wife Carla, the French president began his timely trip in New York, where he addressed students at Columbia University.
He praised his US counterpart for passing landmark health reform but Sarkozy also told America it should be more responsive to the rest of the world.
“The world’s leading power must be just that, a leader,” Sarkozy told his young audience. “But the world’s number one power must also consider that because it is powerful, it must share, it must listen, it must discuss, it must exchange ideas and views with others.”
Reports have long suggested a frostiness in relations between the US and French leaders. Later, Obama and his wife Michelle will treat France’s First Couple to a private White House dinner. It is a chance for Sarkozy to show all is well, on the international stage at least.