Obamas Host French President at State Dinner

  • VOA News

    February 13, 2014 07:39

    President Barack Obama hosted French President François Hollande at a state dinner filled with business leaders, political donors, and Hollywood celebrities.

    Hollande, who recently announced his split with longtime partner Valerie Trierweiler, was seated between Barack and Michelle Obama, in a heated outdoor tent that accommodated a crowd of 350.

    Earlier in the day, Obama praised the "enduring alliance" between France and the United States. Obama said the two countries' alliance "has never been stronger," calling it "much deeper" than it was 20 years ago. Hollande added that the two countries' "now trust each other in an unprecedented manner."

    First lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama welcome French President François Hollande for a State Dinner at the White House on Feb. 11, 2014. /AP

    Talks between the two leaders Tuesday covered Iran nuclear negotiations, Syria, counter-terrorism efforts in Africa, trade, economic issues, and climate change.

    On Wednesday, Hollande is to travel to California to meet with business leaders in Silicon Valley.

    President Obama said Tuesday that the facts will guide the Iran nuclear negotiations. "I do not think the concern during the course of these negotiations is whether or not we are going to be making too many concessions, I think the concern is going to be whether or not Iran can recognize the opportunity to prove in a verifiable fashion to the world in ways that scientist and technical experts can confirm that any nuclear program they have is for peaceful purposes," said Obama.

    He warned that sanctions will be tightened on Iran if its leaders do not resolve the nuclear conflict. He also added businesses that may be exploring possibilities to get into Iran before sanctions are lifted would be doing so "at their own peril."

    Hollande arrived Monday for the first state visit by a French president since 1996. Obama and Hollande traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia and Monticello, the 18th century mansion that was home to Thomas Jefferson, the third U.S. president, principal drafter of the Declaration of Independence and the second U.S. envoy to France, where he served from 1785 to 1789.

    France supported the original 13 American colonies in their war for independence from Britain.

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