It's rare to see a photo of an encounter between the respective leaders of France and Australia.
French president Nicolas Sarkozy and Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd met up today at the NATO summit talks in Bucharest, Romania. Although Australia is not a member of NATO, the prime minister is attempting to persuade European nations to step up their participation in the conflict with the Taliban in Afghanistan. France was a founding member of NATO, but Charles de Gaulle decided to withdraw from the integrated military structure of the organization in 1966. France has nevertheless remained one of the five nations that finance three-quarters of the NATO budget.
France is, of course, one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. In that domain, Kevin Rudd was pleased to learn, from Sarkozy, that France will support Australia's candidacy for admission as an elected (temporary) member of the Security Council for the two-year period 2013-14. One has the impression that Rudd's Australia intends to play a more active role on the international scene, particularly in a European context.
In Bucharest, the French leader got back in contact with George W Bush. This encounter provided the US president with an opportunity for making yet another of those typically crazy declarations for which he is celebrated. In referring to Sarkozy's trip to America last November, Bush likened the Frenchman to... a reincarnation of Elvis Presley! Somebody should tell Bush that it's not Nicolas who sings, but rather his wife Carla. No, better still: Our French King of Bling should be persuaded into getting all dressed up and recording a karaoke version of one of the great hits of the King of Memphis, such as Love me tender or It's Now or Never. Such a video would make a delightful farewell gift for the US president when he leaves office.