David Cameron upset a lot of countries during his trip retracing the old Silk Road from Turkey to India.
What we did not know was that the country taking greatest offence was probably France.
Nicolas Sarkozy was incensed by Cameron, during a speech in Ankara, comparing French opposition to Turkish membership of the European Union to General de Gaulle’s veto of UK membership in 1963.
Cameron’s claim that he was “angry” about Turkey’s bid being blocked went down particularly badly with the Elysée.
The diplomatic fallout was considerable.
Sarkozy’s team summoned Sir Peter Westmacott, the Paris ambassador, and demanded a written formal apology from Downing Street. Downing Street declined, but one official told the FT the episode was “a bit hairy”.
This is just one incident in what has been a rocky and at times awkward personal relationship.
There was a big fall out over the Tories leaving the European People’s Party.
One author close to the Elysée wrote that Sarkozy was “dumbfounded and enraged” when Cameron invited him to speak at the Tory party conference, on the condition he did not mention the EU. (There is something of the Basil Fawlty in that invitation.)
This may all be behind them now, particularly in light of this significant military treaty. The personal significance of Sarkozy arranging a helicopter for Cameron so that he could visit his dying father can also not be overstated.
But you have to wonder whether the Sarko-Cam relationship yet has the warmth of the Sarkozy-Brown “entente formidable”.
As Ben Hall and James Blitz point out, Sarkozy only last month held a private farewell dinner for Gordon and Sarah Brown — a privilege yet to be enjoyed by David and Samantha Cameron.