Friday, November 22, 2013

President Obama To Host State Visit & State Dinner For France's President François Hollande

President Obama and President Hollande in the Oval Office, May '12
The President's first State Dinner since 2012 will be his seventh since taking office...
UPDATE, Feb. 5:  CLICK HERE for the most recent news Washington, DC - After hosting no State Dinners in 2013, President Barack Obama on Friday morning personally announced that he and First Lady Michelle Obama will welcome French President François Hollande for a State Visit and State Dinner next year on February 11, 2014.  Hollande's domestic companion, Ms. Valérie Trierweiler, has also been invited, President Obama said.

The event will be the first State Visit and State Dinner of President Obama's second term, the seventh State Dinner of his Administration, and the first State Dinner since March of 2012.

"Michelle and I look forward to welcoming President Hollande and Valérie Trierweiler on a state visit to the United States, to include a state dinner at the White House on February 11, 2014," President Obama said in a statement.

"The United States and France are close friends and allies, including through NATO, and our countries have worked together to support democracy, liberty, and freedom at home and abroad for more than two centuries."

"During the visit, we will discuss opportunities to further strengthen the U.S.-France security and economic partnership."

Hollande, 59, was elected in 2012.  He is not married to Ms. Trierweiler, 48, so the dinner will also be the first time the Obamas have hosted a State Dinner for a world leader with an unmarried companion.  A political journalist who gave up her career when Hollande decided to pursue national office, Trierweiler is often referred to as the "First Girlfriend" in the US media.

The President's single State Dinner planned for 2013, to honor Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, was "postponed" after she became outraged over allegations that the National Security Agency had been spying on her.  It was scheduled for October 23rd.

President Obama's last State Dinner, in March of 2012, honored the United Kingdom's Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha Cameron as the Prime Minister made an Official Visit.  The term "State Visit" is reserved for Heads of State.

White House will pull out all the stops...
The State Dinner is the most formal diplomatic social affair any President can host, and the White House pulls out all the stops.  Social Secretary Jeremy Bernard will be very busy, as will Executive Chef Cris Comerford, who will create the menu.

Feb. 11 will include a formal morning Arrival Ceremony on the South Lawn, where the President and Mrs. Obama will literally roll out the red carpet as they welcome the French couple, and the two Presidents will review the troops, which will include a fife and drum corps and a cannon salute.  That will be followed by bilateral meetings for the Presidents, while Mrs. Obama typically treats the visiting spouse to a cultural event.   

The White House will announce musical performers on the day of the event, as well as the guest list.  The menu will also be announced; it is typically themed around Mrs. Obama's Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn.  That is possible even for a dinner in February:  The garden grows through all four seasons, and will be producing winter greens, herbs, and root vegetables in February.

Past Obama State Dinners have been held inside the White House, as well as in a dramatic white tent on the South Lawn, complete with bullet-proof glass windows, hardwood floors, and professional sound systems.  One State Dinner was held in the Rose Garden.

The State Department typically hosts a luncheon for the visiting dignitaries on the same day as the State Dinner, so Secretary of State John Kerry will be on host duty too.  

The Obamas with President Lee and his wife at the Korea State Dinner
Previous State Dinners... 
The President and Mrs. Obama's first State Dinner was for India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in November of 2009, held in a tent on the South Lawn, and the second was for Mexico's President Felipe Calderón in May of 2010, held in the East Room.

In 2011, the President and Mrs. Obama hosted three State Dinners, beginning with China's then-President Hu Jintao of China in January, held in the East Room, followed by Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel in June, held in the Rose Garden.  President Lee Myung-bak of the Republic of Korea was honored in October with a dinner in the East Room.

In May of 2011, the President and Mrs. Obama also hosted a dinner the White House dubbed a "Return State Dinner" for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.  It was in London, at Winfield House, the home of the US Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

The menus for the state dinners were created by Chef Comerford and Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses.

*The menu for the State Dinner in honor of India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh IS HERE.

*The menu for the State Dinner in honor of Mexico's President Felipe Calderón IS HERE

*The menu for the State Dinner in honor of China's President Hu Jintao IS HERE.

*The menu for the State Dinner in honor of Chancellor Angela Merkel IS HERE.

*The menu for the State Dinner in honor of South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak IS HERE.

*The menu for the State Dinner in honor of Prime Minister David Cameron IS HERE.

*The menu for the Return State Dinner in honor of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II IS HERE


*Top photo by Pete Souza/ White House - "President Barack Obama and President François Hollande of France, with interpreters, hold a discussion following their bilateral meeting in the Oval Office. Second photo also by Pete Souza.