President Barack Obama has welcomed France’s President Francois Hollande to the White House for a day of meetings culminating in a state dinner.
Francois Hollande was greeted by a military honor guard and blaring brass band on the south lawn.
Barack Obama and Francois Hollande are expected to discuss issues ranging from trade to Iran’s nuclear program.
The visit sets the seal on a new era in US-French relations, which sank to a low a decade ago over the Iraq war.
“More nations must step up and meet the responsibilities of leadership, and that’s what the United States and France are doing together,” Barack Obama said with Francois Hollande by his side at the White House.
Francois Hollande highlighted the historic ties between the two nations, saying: “Each of our countries knows what it owes to each other – its freedom.”
Among the French leader’s engagements on Tuesday are: a press conference at midday with Barack Obama followed by lunch with Vice-President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry.
The main event will be a black-tie dinner held in Francois Hollande’s honor on Tuesday night in a big white tent on the White House lawn.
Invitees will dine on American caviar, quail eggs and rib-eye steak, while dancing to the music of singer Mary J. Blige.
During his time in the US, Francois Hollande will also travel to San Francisco and meet chiefs of Silicon Valley giants including Facebook, Twitter and Google.
Francois Hollande’s long-time partner Valerie Trierweiler did not travel with him, after the breakdown in their relationship following reports he had an affair with an actress.
Following Francois Hollande’s arrival on Monday afternoon, he and Barack Obama flew to Monticello in the state of Virginia. They visited the home of Thomas Jefferson, one of the founders of the US, an envoy to France and the third US president.
They toured Thomas Jefferson’s home, stopping by his study, the kitchen and the quarters of slaves who helped build and run the estate.
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