WASHINGTON, May 7 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday paid tribute to outgoing French President Nicolas Sarkozy, acknowledging his "valued" cooperation in the past years.
In their phone talk, Obama thanked Sarkozy "for his strong leadership and for his friendship and partnership in challenging times," the White House said.
Washington-Paris relations have become much more friendly after Sarkozy was elected president in 2007. The French leader, who has the nickname of "Sarko the American," once said he loved America and was "proud of his nickname."
Obama expressed "his appreciation for the valued cooperation" that has characterized the relationship between him and Sarkozy since he took office in January 2009.
"President Obama said that he and Mrs. Obama extend their very best wishes to President Sarkozy and his wife Carla in their future endeavors," the White House said.
Sarkozy was defeated by Socialist Francois Hollande in the Sunday presidential run-off, and the president-elect will take office on May 15.
Obama called Hollande on Sunday, extending his congratulations and indicating that he looks forward to working closely with him on a range of "shared economic and security challenges," the White House said.
Obama had proposed a meeting with Hollande at the White House prior to their joint appearances at the Group of Eight and the NATO summits, which are scheduled to take place separately at the Camp David retreat in Maryland state on May 18-19 and in Chicago on May 20-21, White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Monday.
Hollande has vowed to renegotiate aspects of the EU fiscal pact agreed to late last year, and is expected to challenge Berlin's strict austerity remedy to the ongoing eurozone sovereign debt crisis.
Obama has made clear that he believes a balanced approach which includes both fiscal consolidation and efforts to continue to boost the recovery is "the right approach" for Europe, Carney said.