President Obama will welcome French President Francois Hollande and first lady Valérie Trierweiler Feb. 11 to the White House for a rare state dinner.
“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,” Obama said Friday, announcing the dinner. “During the visit, we will discuss opportunities to further strengthen the U.S.-France security and economic partnership.”
Obama has hosted fewer state dinners than many of his White House predecessors. There hasn't been a single state dinner in 2013.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff backed out of a planned October state dinner, bristling over revelations about National Security Agency surveillance techniques and U.S. spying of foreign heads of state.
Since becoming president, Obama has hosted just six state dinners. By comparison, former President Ronald Reagan had 35 state dinners during his two terms; former President Bill Clinton hosted 23 such dinners.
President George W. Bush, who like Obama wasn’t fond of the state-dinner format, also held just six such dinners during his White House tenure.