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France’s Hollande arrives in U.S. for state visit

France’s Hollande arrives in U.S. for state visit

PanARMENIAN.Net - French President Francois Hollande has arrived in the U.S. for a state visit, as he and President Barack Obama tout their cooperation on issues from Iran to trade and climate change, BBC News reports.

After Hollande's arrival on Monday, Feb 10 afternoon, he and Obama flew to Monticello in the state of Virginia, the home of Thomas Jefferson, one of the founders of the U.S., an envoy to France, and the third U.S. president. The two toured Jefferson's home, how on the campus of the University of Virginia, stopping by his study, the kitchen and the quarters of slaves who helped build and run the estate.

In remarks after their tour, Hollande said Monticello was a symbol of U.S.-French relations, "because here [Marquis de] Lafayette was welcomed". He was referring to a French aristocrat who served in the Continental Army, which defeated the British and won American independence.

The U.S. president said the visit was an opportunity to reflect on the history of U.S.-French relations.

"Tomorrow we'll have an opportunity to talk about not only our current bonds and alliance but also ways that we can strengthen our cooperation in the future," Obama said.

In articles published jointly in the Washington Post and Le Monde on Monday, the presidents hailed their efforts in the Middle East, including negotiations with Iran that led to an interim agreement on its disputed nuclear program, and in Syria, where they said their threat of force had "paved the way for the plan to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons".

Obama and Hollande also urged action to combat climate change, writing their countries could "expand the clean energy partnerships that create jobs and move us toward low-carbon growth".

Ties between the two nations have warmed considerably since France refused to support the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq under President George W Bush. With rancor over the Iraq War a fading memory, the two countries now find themselves largely in step on a wide range of issues.

The run-up to Hollande's visit has been overshadowed by his grim domestic situation. His long-time partner Valerie Trierweiler did not travel with him, after the breakdown in their relationship following accusations he had had affair.

On Tuesday, Hollande and Obama will hold bilateral talks on the global economic recovery, strengthening the eurozone, the French president's effort to boost the French economy, Iran, and other topics, according to U.S. officials.

After a joint news conference, Hollande will have lunch with Vice-President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry at the state department.

In the evening, Obama will play host to Hollande for a lavish official state dinner at the White House.

During his time in the U.S., Hollande will also travel to San Francisco and meet chiefs of Silicon Valley giants including Facebook, Twitter and Google.

There he may face questions over his government's desire for uniform taxation on internet companies - many of them U.S.-based - that skirt high taxes in France.

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