French President Nicolas Sarkozy took a brief time-out from his relaxing private New England vacation on Sunday to defend himself against criticism over a deal to sell Libya anti-tank missiles.
Sarkozy, vacationing on Lake Winnipesaukee, gave an informal news conference to talk about events back home - including the European defense group EADS' arms sale to Libya, reportedly valued at $405 million (?295.75 million).
France's Socialist opposition has demanded to know whether the conservative Sarkozy offered up the weapons contract to convince Libya to free six medics serving life sentences there. The arms deal was announced soon after the medics flew home to Bulgaria on a French presidential plane.
Sarkozy said the arms deal had nothing to do with French and European negotiations to free the six medical workers - five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor who had been accused of infecting hundreds of Libyan children with the HIV virus.