- The Washington Times - Monday, February 10, 2014

President Obama and French President Francois Hollande on Monday afternoon will tour Monticello, the estate of former president and Declaration of Independence author Thomas Jefferson.

Jefferson’s home in Charlottesville, Va., the White House said, highlights the strong bond between the U.S. and France. Before becoming president, Jefferson served as U.S. envoy to France.

In an joint op-ed Monday, Mr. Obama and Mr. Hollande said their two nations remain important partners on issues of global security, international trade, scientific research and on other matters. They also challenged other countries to join in the effort to achieve peace in Syria, to combat climate change and in other challenges facing the world.

“We are sovereign and independent nations that make our decisions based on our respective national interests. Yet we have been able to take our alliance to a new level because our interests and values are so closely aligned,” the two men wrote in the op-ed, which ran in The Washington Post and the French newspaper Le Monde.

“Rooted in a friendship stretching back more than two centuries, our deepening partnership offers a model for international cooperation,” the men wrote. “Transnational challenges cannot be met by any one nation alone. More nations must step forward and share the burden and costs of leadership. More nations must meet their responsibilities for upholding global security and peace and advancing freedom and human rights.”

The visit, scheduled for about 4:30 p.m. Monday, will be followed by an official state dinner at the White House on Tuesday.

But Mr. Hollande’s long-awaited visit largely has been overshadowed by his romantic woes and the fact that he’s visiting the U.S. alone after recently separating from his partner, Valerie Trierweiler.

Media reports have linked Mr. Hollande to a 41-year-old actress, but she is not joining the French president on his U.S. trip.

Mr. Hollande and Mr. Obama also are expected to hold a joint press conference earlier in the day Tuesday.