Former US president Barack Obama backed Emmanuel Macron for the French presidency, praising the centrist frontrunner’s “liberal values” in a video on the candidate’s website.
Mr Obama said he was endorsing the centrist candidate “because of how important this election is.”
“He appeals to people’s hopes and not their fears,” he added.
Mr Macron is facing far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in Sunday’s runoff vote. Polls suggest he is well ahead.
Mr Obama said: “I’m not planning to get involved in many elections now that I don’t have to run for office again, but the French election is very important to the future of France and the values that we care so much about.”
He continued: “I have admired the campaign that Emmanuel Macron has run. He has stood up for liberal values. He put forward the vision for the important role that France plays in Europe and around the world. And he has committed to a better future for French people. He appeals to people’s hopes, and not their fears.”
Mr Obama ended his message with the words “En Marche” (Macron’s political movement) and “Vive La France.”
Mr Macron had let it be known via Tweets that the pair had spoken on April 20, ahead of the first round of the elections on Sunday 23.
Reacting to Thursday’s endorsement, he said: “Happy. Very Happy. Delighted. He supports democratic movements and European progress. I’m glad.”
His Twitter account read: “l’espoir est en marche. Merci Barack Obama.” (Hope is on the move. Thank you Barack Obama.”