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Hollande tests his English in the US

President charms American hosts with a few well-chosen words in English during speech on the White House lawn

President François Hollande has spoken a little English during his three-day State visit to America.

And, it turns out, his command of the language is somewhat better than the US President’s French.

During a press conference on the White House lawn, Barack Obama opened his speech with an admission: “Bonjour,” he said, before conceding, “That's the extent of my French.”

He went on: “Few places in the world are as heartwarming as Paris in the spring. This morning we will do our best with Washington in winter.”

He finished his welcome speech with a well-intended, if grammatically incorrect: “Bienvenue mes amis.”

Mr Hollande replied, in halting English: “Dear Barack, dear Michelle, it's cold in Washington. But it's a beautiful day, a great day for America and France,” before continuing with the rest of his speech in French.

His efforts in front of the world’s press yesterday were an improvement on an earlier communication between the two leaders. The French president infamously signed a letter congratulating Mr Obama on his re-election with the word ‘friendly’.

Last night, Mr Hollande was the guest of honour at a lavish banquet at the White House, where the two nations’ centuries-old friendship was toasted and re-affirmed.

Mr Obama said: "We Americans have grown to love all things French - the films, the food, the wine.

"But most of all, we love our French friends because we have stood together for our freedom for more than 200 years. Vive la France, God bless America, and long live the alliance between our great nations."

In reply, Mr Hollande said relations between the two countries had reached ‘an exceptional level of closeness and confidence’ because they shared ‘universal values’ of freedom, democracy and respect for the law.

He said: "We love Americans, although we don't always say so, and you love the French, but you are sometimes too shy to say so."

Today, Mr Hollande was visiting Silicon Valley, to meet the leaders of global giants including Facebook, Twitter and Google and champion French tech businesses in the region.

Photo: BFMTV

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