President Obama welcomed French President Francois Hollande Tuesday for an official state visit, honoring the U.S. ally with a traditional arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House.
"We owe our freedom to each other," Mr. Obama said of the two nations, referring to France's aid during the American revolution and to the U.S.-led invasion of Normandy during World War II. "France is America's oldest ally, and in recent years we've deepened the alliance."
Mr. Obama spoke a few words of French during the ceremony, hesitating as he tried to pronounce "liberté, égalité et fraternité" (liberty, equality and fraternity).
Mr. Hollande invited Mr. Obama to Normandy in June for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. Two U.S. veterans of the operation attended the ceremony at the White House.
"Each of our countries knows what it owes to the other — its freedom," Mr. Hollande said. He called Mr. Obama "a great man."
The French have been among Mr. Obama's closest allies during his administration, working closely with the U.S. on military operations in Libya and Mali, and aiding Mr. Obama's efforts to seize Syria's chemical weapons and to impose tighter scrutiny of Iran's suspected nuclear-weapons program.
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