Corridors of Power: Sarko as Zorro, Bhutto Staying Put and More

Corridors of Power: Sarko as Zorro, Bhutto Staying Put and More

SARKO'S HEFTY PAYRAISE -- French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is on an official visit to Washington this week, wants the French to work harder and earn more. Since his election six months ago, the energetic Sarko has put his ideas into practice by working hard himself -- and earning 172 percent more. That's how much the French parliament has voted to increase the president's salary, which will now amount to the equivalent of $337,756 a year.

This brings Sarkozy's paycheck close to that of his American host, President Bush, who is paid a comparatively modest $400,000; but not as close as British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose annual salary is $384,762. Surprisingly, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is herself scheduled to spend this weekend with Bush in Crawford, Texas, is not in the same league, with $276,455 a year. Even Italy's Romano Prodi does better than that at $285,828; but that figure is a combination of his ministerial salary and parliamentarian's pay.

ZORRO'S LATEST EXPLOIT -- Meanwhile, Sarkozy has given new meaning to the idea of a hands-on presidency. He arrived in Washington two days after a 12-hour dash to N'Djamena, capital of Chad, in the Sahara, where he persuaded the government to release three French journalists and four Spanish flight attendants connected with an attempt by a French charity to smuggle 103 so-called Darfur orphans to France. The president's trip was only partly successful: The Chadian authorities, who say the children were actually Chadians, are still holding members of the charity, Zoe's Ark, on charges of kidnapping.

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