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Thursday, February 13, 2014

French President Hollande's Official State Visit

A busy day for President Obama and France's president, Francois Hollande. 

After the official welcoming ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House on Tuesday, the two presidents took questions from reporters during an afternoon joint press conference that saw talks on global security, enforcing existing sanctions, clean energy, and global trade.

Said President Obama on the achievements of the US and France working in concert: "... we’re moving forward together on key global development initiatives:  food security and nutrition that can lift 50 million Africans out of poverty; our determination to replenish the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB, and malaria; and I’m pleased that we’re joining with partners around the world on a new global health security effort to combat infectious diseases and save lives." 


During the evening's dinner and toast, president Hollande made these remarks about U.S. and France relations.

"Mr. President, the relations between our two countries have reached an exceptional level of closeness and confidence, and there is one simple reason for that:  We share the same vision of the world and we show mutual respect.  The United States of America and France are two great nations.  What is expected of them is to keep a promise, a promise of freedom and the promise of progress, and also to keep a dream alive -- that same dream made by Jefferson, Washington, Lafayette and the French revolutionaries -- a dream to change the world.  By uniting our forces, by uniting our talents, we will be able to keep the flame of hope alive."
 
State Dinner Gown
Press conference and official welcoming ceremony aside, State Dinners are also about what the First Lady will be wearing.

Here, First Lady Michelle Obama looks beautiful in this Carolina Herrera three-quartered length laced gown.  A first for the first lady at a State Dinner -- covered arms.

Herrara also designed gowns for former First Lady Jacqueline Onassis-Kennedy.


First Lady Michelle Obama looked absolutely beautiful in this Carolina Herrera inspired gown,
with some suggesting she may be the most beautiful First Lady - ever.
A French Inspired White House
The White House reports that French design has "long inspired the White House motif" with French furnishing throughout the State Floor.  In the East Room sits a French Plateau made by French artist, Deniere et Matelin.  Other French furnishings can also be found in the Blue Room of the White House.  Even the flowers for the occasion are French inspired, created by White House Chief Floral Designer, Laura Dowling, who, the White House says studied floral artistry in Paris.

The Menu
France may have been in the House, but the dinner was strictly about American cuisine.

From the White House:  The State Dinner celebrates the best of American cuisine.  This event highlights the talents of our Nation's cheese artisans, as well as the bountiful produce grown by farmers across our country, to include vegetables from the First Lady Michelle's White House kitchen garden.

See the full State Dinner menu below.



Entertainment
Mary J. Blige who, like First Lady Michelle Obama, has a January birthday, was one of the performers at the State Dinner.  We're not certain why the White House listed Mary as Ms. Mary J. Blige and Mr. Kendu Issacs on the State Dinner guest list in that form.  Despite their marriage woes, the two are still married, and have been since 2003.   Reveal, or Mistake?   PHOTOS!


Seven State Visits
President Hollande's visit marks the seventh State or Official Visit for the Obamas.   Previous State Dinners have included India (November 2009), Mexico (May 2010), China (January 2011), Germany (June, 2011), Korea (October, 2011), and the UK and Northern Ireland (March, 2012).

We're awaiting Africa's State Dinner, soon.

Speaking of the French (Open)
This French Open sports short made us laugh.  Can you sense the writer's comedic jest?

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