Senior Correspondent, France
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Apr 13, 2012

Sarkozy calls for Syria aid corridors

PARIS (Reuters) – France called on Friday for the creation of aid corridors to help Syrians escape “massacres”, saying a U.N.-brokered ceasefire offered an opportunity to put the humanitarian measures in place.

Three anti-government protesters were killed when forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad fought rebels near the border with Turkey, undermining the day-old truce negotiated by peace envoy Kofi Annan.

Apr 13, 2012

Sarkozy’s comeback hopes crumble, polls show

PARIS (Reuters) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy defended his economic record on Friday as a slew of opinion polls suggested his prospects of re-election were crumbling just over a week from round one of a vote where Socialist Francois Hollande is clear frontrunner.

A CSA poll showed Hollande extending his lead over Sarkozy, with the conservative incumbent’s modest gains of the past month starting to evaporate ahead of a two-round contest taking place on April 22 and May 6.

Apr 11, 2012

Interview: French left preps NATO allies for fast Afghan exit

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s Socialists will pull all combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2012, a year ahead of an accelerated withdrawal planned by the government, and has already discussed this with Britain and the United States, their chief defence adviser says.

In an interview, Jean-Yves Le Drian, chief defence aide to Socialist presidential frontrunner Francois Hollande, also told Reuters France would press for a review of long-standing demands for a bigger say in the U.S.-led NATO alliance’s integrated military command structure.

Apr 11, 2012

French left preps NATO allies for fast Afghan exit

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s Socialists will pull all combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2012, a year ahead of an accelerated withdrawal planned by the government, and has already discussed this with Britain and the United States, their chief defense adviser says.

In an interview, Jean-Yves Le Drian, chief defense aide to Socialist presidential frontrunner Francois Hollande, also told Reuters France would press for a review of long-standing demands for a bigger say in the U.S.-led NATO alliance’s integrated military command structure.

Apr 10, 2012

France’s “millionaire tax” would last years: Hollande aide

PARIS (Reuters) – The 75 percent tax rate that French presidential frontrunner Francois Hollande wants to slap on income over 1 million euros ($1.31 million) would be kept in place for many years, a top adviser to the Socialist candidate said on Tuesday.

In an interview with Reuters, Hollande adviser Michel Sapin said the 75 percent tax was more a symbolic measure than a big money-spinner for the state but should stay in place for as long as the rest of Hollande’s national debt-reduction effort.

Apr 6, 2012

French hard left to back Hollande in election duel

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s surging hardline leftists finally said out loud on Friday what Socialist Francois Hollande has quietly hoped to hear: that they would encourage their followers to back him in an expected May 6 presidential run-off against Nicolas Sarkozy.

Left Front candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who says Hollande’s Socialists have gone soft, is expected to be eliminated in the first round of voting in two weeks, but his growing popularity has become one of the main stories of the election campaign.

Apr 5, 2012

France’s Juppe warns of left’s “explosive cocktail”

PARIS (Reuters) – French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe warned on Thursday that Socialist presidential frontrunner Francois Hollande’s economic and European plans were an “explosive cocktail” that could derail Europe’s exit from its debt crisis.

Leading the charge to back conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is struggling in his battle for a second term, Juppe said a 60-day plan of emergency economic measures outlined by Hollande on Wednesday could “drive France over a precipice”.

Apr 5, 2012

Hollande to order France finance audit if elected

PARIS (Reuters) – French presidential election frontrunner Francois Hollande said on Thursday he would order an audit of public finances if elected in May, a day after setting an ambitious timetable for implementing his tax-and-spend promises.

The Socialist candidate, leading conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy in polls for a May 6 run-off, made the announcement hours before his rival was to present a costed manifesto in his uphill battle for re-election.

Mar 29, 2012

Funding probes prompt French pre-election skirmishes

PARIS (Reuters) – Allies of French President Nicolas Sarkozy attacked his Socialist opponents on Thursday for drawing attention to an inquiry that raises awkward questions about funding of his 2007 election campaign.

Just over three weeks from an election in which Sarkozy hopes to win a second term, Prime Minister Francois Fillon jumped to his defense, saying the judicial investigation had been running two years and produced no incriminating evidence.

Mar 26, 2012

Shootings no game-change for France’s Sarkozy

PARIS (Reuters) – A spate of shootings by an Islamist gunman looked at first sight like the kind of shock event that campaign managers thought might help French President Nicolas Sarkozy secure a second term in an April-May election.

But as the dust settles on the Toulouse killings, with the lone gunman dead and his brother in custody as the sole alleged accomplice, last week’s drama seems unlikely to prove an electoral game-changer, opinion polls and experts suggest.