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America's birth is intertwined with the involvement of France in North America. French explorers and colonies scattered across the continent. French military forces were indispensable for America's independence from Great Britain. And the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France launched the United States on a path toward becoming a continental, and then global, power. The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to the people of the United States. Prominent Americans such as Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison have served as ambassadors or envoys to France.
The American Revolution inspired supporters of the French Revolution of 1789. In World War II, U.S. forces were instrumental in freeing France from Nazi occupation. Later in the 20th Century, France drove the creation of the European Union in part to counter U.S. power in the world. In 2003, the relationship was in trouble when France declined to support U.S. plans to invade Iraq. The relationship healed somewhat again with the election of the pro-American ex-president Nicholas Sarkozy in 2007.
Some three million Americans visit France each year. The United States and France share deep trade and economic relations. Each country is among the other's largest trading partners. The most high profile global economic competition between France and the United States is in the commercial aircraft industry. France, through the European Union, supports Airbus as a rival to American-owned Boeing.
On the diplomatic front, both are among the founders of the United Nations, NATO, World Trade Organization, G-8, and a host of other international bodies. The U.S. and France remain as two of only five members of the United Nations Security Council with permanent seats and veto power over all council actions.