Hollande first French president since 1958 not to address Congress on state visit

Olivier Knox
Yahoo News
French President Francois Hollande, makes a joke towards the media after a lunch with Belgian King Philippe and Queen Mathilde at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
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French President Francois Hollande makes a joke toward the media after a lunch with Belgian King Philippe and Queen Mathilde at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. (Michel Euler/AP)

French President Francois Hollande will be the first French president since 1958 not to address a joint session of Congress during a state visit to Washington, French media are reporting. Hollande, who has seized headlines around the world with the soap opera-style mayhem in his personal life, will get a visit to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and, of course, a lavish state dinner at the White House.

So are House Republicans snubbing Hollande?

Republican House Speaker John Boehner's office denies that the French leader's very public romantic troubles (or his Socialist Party credentials) played a role.

"The Speaker values America's strong relationship with our oldest ally, but the schedule made an address
impossible during this visit," spokesman Michael Steel told Yahoo News.

Hollande's predecessor, the proudly pro-American Nicolas Sarkozy, made an official visit to Washington in late 2007 (a few weeks after his very troubled marriage ended in divorce). Sarkozy addressed Congress.

And since then, eight heads of state or government have enjoyed that privilege.

 

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