Obama: Picking favorite ally like choosing between children

President Obama said Tuesday that deciding whether the U.S. is closer to France or Britain would be akin to picking favorites between his daughters, Sasha and Malia.

“I have two daughters — and they are both gorgeous, and wonderful, and I would never choose between them,” Obama said at a press conference alongside French President François Hollande. “That's how I feel about my outstanding European partners. All of them are wonderful in their own ways.”

“I have four children,” Hollande chimed in, saying that would make choosing favorites even more difficult.

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Hollande is enjoying the first state visit of Obama's second term, prompting speculation in the French media that France's standing with the U.S. has outpaced Britain's, its historic rival. Obama lent credence to that impression when he accepted Hollande's invitation to travel to France in June for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy.

“What I do believe is that the U.S.-French alliance has never been stronger,” Obama added. “The levels of cooperation that we're seeing across a whole range of issues is much deeper than it was five years ago, 10 years ago, 20 years ago.”

France was one of a handful of countries that backed Obama's push for military strikes against Syria last year, which were called off after Syria agreed to give up its chemical weapons. The country has also been a key ally in nuclear talks with Iran and has taken a lead role combating Islamist militants in Africa.

Obama and Hollande said they've resolved France's concerns over spying revelations from former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden. Obama said the U.S. doesn't have a “no spy” agreement with Britain or any other country, but that he's committed to respecting the privacy rights of people all over the world.

“We are making headway,” Hollande said. “Mutual trust has been restored.”

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff pulled out of an earlier state invitation following revelations that the NSA spied on her.

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