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[Published: Wednesday March 26 2008]

Sarkozy seeks better ties with UK

London , 26 March-(ANA)- French President Nicolas Sarkozy has urged Britain and France to trust each other more and work together, ahead of his first state visit to the UK.

Mr Sarkozy called for the UK to work "hand in glove" with France to tackle issues like immigration and terrorism.

During his two-day visit, he will be a guest of the Queen at Windsor Castle and address both Houses of Parliament.

Mr Sarkozy will hold talks with Prime Minister Gordon Brown on issues ranging from global finance to Afghanistan.

The two leaders are also expected to unveil new co-operation on illegal immigration and nuclear energy.

Mr Sarkozy will be accompanied by his new wife, the supermodel-turned-singer Carla Bruni, and his mother.

In an interview for BBC Radio 4's Today, the French leader expressed admiration for what he described as British importance and dynamism.

He called for the formation of a "new Franco-British brotherhood", saying Europe could not do without Britain's language, its strong economy and defence.

He said he wanted the two countries' "Entente Cordiale" to become an "entente" of friendship.

President Sarkozy, speaking in French, said he respected Britain's long-held ties with the US, but stressed that this should not interfere with it being at the heart of Europe.

"I perfectly understand that Britain should wish to keep its special relationship with the US, but that doesn't stop Britain from taking its rightful place in Europe," he said.

To those British people calling for a referendum on the European treaty, he said: "We need you, the British, within Europe.

"This treaty respects differences - no-one is asking Britain to change its real identity. Keep your language, your culture, your interests," he said.

He said France and Britain, as two nuclear powers, should "work together" as members of the UN Security Council and as partners with "the same vision to reform international institutions" (ANA)

FA/ANA/26 March 2008---

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