Feb. 10 - French President Hollande arrives in the United States for the first state visit hosted by President Obama and his wife Michelle in nearly 2-1/2 years. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION). STORY: French President Francois Hollande starts a visit to the United States on Monday with spats over U.S. eavesdropping and trade talks with the EU unlikely to chill a relationship now far warmer than before the 2003 U.S.-led war on Iraq. Hollande, age 59, who split from his partner last month after an affair with an actress, arrives solo for the first state visit hosted by President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle in nearly 2-1/2 years. The United States and France, whose alliance dates to the founding of America in the late 18th century, are working together on Iran, Syria, North Africa and other trouble spots. The collaboration is a far cry from the strains of a decade ago when France refused to join the Iraq war. "France is a solid ally of the United States but always retains its independence," Hollande told Time magazine in an interview published last week. He made clear that he shared European anger over National Security Agency practices that "should never have existed" and had caused "a difficult moment, not just between France and the United States but also between Europe and the United States".