U.S. President Donald Trump treated French President Emmanuel Macron to a colorful welcome ceremony at the White House on Tuesday during a state visit that threatened to expose differences on Iran, trade and Syria between two close allies.
A 21-gun salute echoed across the South Lawn and a flute-playing fife and drum corps, in red-coated uniforms and tri-corner hats, marched by Trump and Macron and their wives, Melania Trump and Brigitte Macron.
The two leaders were then to launch into a morning of talks expected to include how to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which Trump wants to withdraw the United States from unless European powers strengthen its terms.
European calls for exemptions from Trump's plan for 25 percent tariffs on steel imports are also on their agenda, as well as the U.S. president's desire to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria as soon as practicable.
Macron, whose visit will be followed by one on Friday from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, sees the Iran deal as the best available option to constrain Iran's nuclear ambitions. He has also called on Trump to keep troops in Syria.
Trump, in welcoming remarks, thanked France for joining with the United States and Britain in launching airstrikes in Syria earlier this month in response to a chemical weapons attack blamed on Syrian President Bashar Assad.
He said he and Macron had developed over the past year "a wonderful friendship" that is "a testament to the enduring friendship that binds our two nations."
Macron, in his remarks, called for the two countries to work together against terrorists, on North Korea and Iran, on "free and fair trade," and on climate change.
"It is together that we will counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, whether it is in North Korea or in Iran," Macron said.
He alluded to Trump's withdrawal last year from the Paris climate accord, saying "we do not always agree on the solution," but stressed "the fate of our children is at stake."
In the evening, the Trumps are to host the Macrons at the first state dinner conducted by Trump since he took power.
The Republican is the first president in more than 100 years not to hold a state dinner during the first year of his administration.
More than 100 guests are expected to attend. The official guest list will be released shortly before the event.
The White House said the color scheme for the dinner is cream and gold and food will be served on china from the presidencies of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
The Cross Hall of the White House will be decorated with more than 1,200 cherry blossom branches, while the dining room will feature white sweet peas and white lilacs.
Entertainment will be provided by the Washington National Opera.
Dinner will be prepared by White House executive chef Cristeta Comerford.
The White House said it will showcase "the best of America's cuisines and traditions, with nuances of French influences."
The opening course will be greens from the White House kitchen garden first planted by former First Lady Michelle Obama.
The main course will be a rack of spring lamb and rice jambalaya cooked in a New Orleans tradition.
Dessert will be a nectarine tart and creme fraiche ice cream.
Wines will come from both the United States and France -- a Domaine Serene Chardonnay "Evenstad Reserve" 2015 and a Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir "Laurene" 2014.
The United States last held a state dinner for a French president in 2014, when Francois Hollande was hosted by president Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.
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