President Nicolas Sarkozy of France joined Russia in condemning the Pentagon's plans to install missile defence bases in central Europe yesterday and backed President Dmitri Medvedev's previously ignored calls for a new pan-European security pact.
Both presidents concluded a Russia-EU summit, in Nice in the south of France, with an agreement to convene a major international conference next summer at which the Americans, Russians and the 27 countries of the EU should come up with a blueprint for new post-cold war "security architecture" in Europe.
The call for such a pact has been Medvedev's central foreign policy message since he succeeded Vladimir Putin as president earlier this year. Medvedev has called for the new deal in several keynote speeches but has been snubbed by western leaders until Sarkozy delivered a characteristic surprise yesterday, appearing to hijack the subject.
Sarkozy said: "We could meet in mid-2009 to lay the foundations of what could possibly be a future pan-European security system."