Hollande, Obama Talk Greece Before G-8 Summit

New French President Francois Hollande visited President Obama at this White House on Friday afternoon. The two leaders will also travel to Camp David for the G-8 economic summit.


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Melissa Block. Leaders of the world's biggest economies are meeting at Camp David this weekend and there will be some new faces around the table. Since the last G8 Summit, France, Japan and Italy have elected new leaders. French President Francois Hollande was sworn in just three days ago and this morning, he stopped by the White House for a pre-summit meeting with President Obama. Here's NPR's Scott Horsley.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: It's a stressful time for the new French president, as the Greek debt crisis sends tremors throughout the wider eurozone. That's the topic that's expected to dominate the G8 this weekend. President Obama says it was his main focus in meeting with President Hollande.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: President Hollande and I agree that this is an issue of extraordinary importance not only to the people of Europe, but also to the world economy.

HORSLEY: As European governments wrestle with their economic problems, the United States is largely a spectator, albeit a very interested one. After their conversation at the White House, Hollande said he and Mr. Obama share similar views about what needs to happen in Europe.

PRESIDENT FRANCOIS HOLLANDE: (Speaking foreign language)

HORSLEY: Growth must be a priority, Hollande said. Even as European governments work to reduce their budget deficits, jobs and economic growth must be encouraged. Mr. Obama's been making much the same argument here at home. While Republicans focus on reducing government budget deficits, the president has argued for more government investment in things like public works projects to address persistently high unemployment.

In Europe, the advocates for austerity have held sway in recent years, led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. But the pendulum may be swinging back now. Heather Conley, a European expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says with the election of the left-leaning Hollande in France, Mr. Obama may have found a kindred spirit.

HEATHER CONLEY: There is great convergence between Washington and Paris about creating that balance.

HORSLEY: The two men don't have much time to get to know one another before their partnership is put to the test. Mr. Obama's been boning up on the new French president's biography. He says he was interested to learn that as a young man, Hollande spent time in the U.S. studying American fast food.

OBAMA: Although he decided to go into politics, we'll be interested in his opinions of cheeseburgers in Chicago.

HORSLEY: And cementing the transatlantic alliance, Mr. Obama noted, nothing goes better with cheeseburgers than French fries. Scott Horsley, NPR News, the White House.

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