Tom Cruise was the talk of Paris on Monday. Not just becausehe was in town for the gala premiere of Michael Mann's Collateral, butbecause of a meeting he took earlier in the day.

To the slight bemusement of many in the industry, Cruisedrew up on a riverboat and spent an hour meeting the French minister offinances, Nicolas Sarkozy. What made it odder still was that the meeting washeld at the request of Cruise himself.

What did the two men talk about' While there are no knownplans for Cruise to shoot a film in France, the two apparently had"wide-ranging discussions" with Franco-American relations as the centrepiece.

Normally a finance minister would not be a visiting Americanstar's first port of call. But Sarkozy is not a normal politician. Other thanpresident Jacques Chirac, he is easily the most charismatic star in the Frenchpolitical firmament and although they are from the same side of the politicalspectrum the two have frequent run-ins. Getting the finance job earlier thisyear was seen as a poison chalice, but Sarkozy seems to be rising to thechallenge.

Following the meeting there was an outbreak of mutualback-slapping. Cruise described Sarkozy and his wife Cecilia as "reallyterrific people". Sarkozy meanwhile told reporters that Cruise is "a reallyincredible guy with an extraordinary vision of the world." And Sarkozy landedhimself an invitation to Cruise's ranch in Colorado.