CANNES, France -- President Obama and French President Nicholas Sarkozy paused to pay their respect for the service members of both nations Friday. The two leaders honored the long history of the US-French alliance in a ceremony complete with wreath laying, troop review and national anthems, but shared a special message for those who served in the NATO-led operation over the last year which drove Libyan tyrant Moammar Qaddafi from power.
"We pay tribute to all those who have served and given their lives, French forces, American forces, allies and partners," President Obama said under heavy rain in Cannes City Hall, following the two-day meeting of the G20 summit.
The American leader singled out this year's offensive in Libya, acknowledging France's major role in freeing the people of Libya from thirty years under the reign of a tyrant. Qaddafi was killed two weeks ago, after more than seven months of civil war during which Obama said French and American officers served shoulder to shoulder.
"When the old regime threatened to massacre on a horrific scale, the world refused to standby," Obama said, "The United States was proud to play a decisive role, especially in the early days, taking out Libyan air defenses and conducting precision strikes that stopped the regime in its tracks."
President Obama ended his two day trip to France declaring, "Viva La France, Long Live America and long live the alliance between our two nations."