Obama downplays Sarkozy snub

President Obama denied today that he had snubbed Nicolas Sarkozy by turning down an invitation to have dinner with the French president and his wife.

At a joint press conference with Sarkozy today, Obama said he simply didn't have time for a long, diplomatic dinner.

"What it means is that I have a very tough schedule," Obama said in response to a question. "I would love nothing more than to have a leisurely week in Paris, stroll down the Seine, take my wife out to a nice meal, have a picnic in Luxembourg Gardens. Those days are over, for the moment."

Obama said the U.S-French relationship was strong enough to weather trivial P.R. snafus, and joked that he looks forward to spending more time in France once he's out of office.

"At some point, I will be the ex-President, and then you will find me in France, I'm sure, quite a bit, having fun," Obama quipped.

Sarkozy echoed Obama, saying he wasn't miffed that Obama turned town his invitation.

"Do you think our prime concern is what glossy magazine we'll be pictured in, or what restaurant we're going to go and spend an evening in, or whether we spend an extra night here or not?" Sarkozy asked.

"Do you think people are just waiting to see us hand-in-hand sitting here looking into one another's eyes? Of course not," he added.