France denies European plan to lobby Obama on tankers

PARIS, March 25 (BestGrowthStock) – France denied on Thursday that
European countries planned sending a formal protest to U.S.
President Barack Obama over a contest to supply aerial
refuelling tankers but said President Nicolas Sarkoy would raise
the issue during a visit to Washington next week.

Les Echos newspaper reported that leaders of four host
nations to Europeanplanemaker Airbus — Germany’s Angela Merkel,
France’s Sarkozy, UK’s Gordon Brown and Spain’s Luis Zapatero —
were considering sending a joint letter to Obama protesting
about the handling of the contest with rival Boeing (BA.N: ).

“At this stage, it is not planned. There was already a
letter in December signed by the four countries. This letter has
still not received a reply, the Americans have assured us that
they would give a reply very soon,” an aide to Sarkoy said.

“At this stage, no additional initiative is planned,” the
official added.

During a visit to the United States next week, Sarkozy will
take a message that “aims to ensure that if the competition is
reopened, it will be totally fair and that that is the condition
for our European constructor to take part”, the official added.

The Pentagon said on Tuesday that it remained in active
talks with Airbus parent EADS (EAD.PA: ) on extending the May 10
deadline for aerial tanker bids. [ID:nN23101250]

Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said EADS had
expressed some interest in bidding as a prime contractor against
Boeing (BA.N: ) to build the 179 refueling planes for the Air
Force after its partner Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N: ) bowed out.

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(Reporting by Yann Le Guernigou)

France denies European plan to lobby Obama on tankers