Obama Hosts Hollande In US For State Visit

Sky News US Team
Obama Hosts Hollande In US For State Visit

The White House will host a Monet-inspired state dinner for Francois Hollande as the French president seeks to put his domestic troubles aside during a diplomatic trip to Washington.

President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle are due to entertain the French leader under a marquee on the South Lawn alongside 350 guests.

The tent will be transformed into a spring-like scene inspired by Claude Monet's Water Lilies paintings, with quince branches in full bloom, irises, blue agapanthus and lilies.

Guests will meet the Obamas and Mr Hollande in the Blue Room, which will be decorated with Parisian-made gilded sofas and chairs ordered for the room in 1817 by then-president James Monroe.

White House officials say Mr Hollande and the guests will dine on Illinois caviar and Colorado rib eye beef during the state dinner.

Chefs have also selected wines from California and Washington state, along with a white chardonnay from Monticello in Virginia.

Entertainment for the event will be provided by nine-times Grammy winner Mary J. Blige.

The two leaders are due to discuss topics including Iran, Syria, North Africa and trade. They will also host a joint news conference.

Mr Hollande's state visit is supposed to underscore the historic ties between France and the US, but it comes at a sensitive time for the French president, whose approval rating is currently the lowest of any modern-era French leader.

His is also visiting the US without a female companion, following a public split with his long-time partner Valerie Trierweiler.

The couple's break-up has dominated headlines in France following a report in a gossip magazine which alleged Mr Hollande was having an affair with French actress Julie Gayet.

Mr Hollande arrived in Washington on Monday and was greeted by Mr Obama at a nearby military base.

The two leaders then boarded Air Force One for a trip to Virginia where they toured Thomas Jefferson's plantation estate in Monticello.

Later this week, Mr Hollande is due to head to California to meet technology leaders in Silicon Valley.

It is his second visit to the US since taking office in 2012.

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