Hollande and Obama make joint call for climate accord

Lampposts in Washington dressed with the US, French and District of Columbia flags Washington is decked out in French, US and District of Columbia flags ahead of President Hollande's visit

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French President Francois Hollande and US President Barack Obama have issued a joint call for an "ambitious" global climate change agreement.

The call comes in an article published jointly in the Washington Post and Le Monde.

The presidents requested support for a deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions "through concrete actions", at a climate conference in Paris in 2015.

Mr Hollande arrived in the US on Monday for a state visit.

After landing near Washington at 15:00 local time (20:00 GMT), Mr Hollande and Mr Obama travelled to Charlottesville, Virginia, to visit Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, one of the founders of the US, a minister to France, and the third US president.

'Transformed'

The US and French leaders wrote in the article that their countries could "expand the clean energy partnerships that create jobs and move us toward low-carbon growth".

"We can do more to help developing countries shift to low-carbon energy as well, and deal with rising seas and more intense storms."

Start Quote

Perhaps nowhere is our new partnership on more vivid display than in Africa”

End Quote Presidents Obama and Hollande

The opinion piece also pointed to the two countries' co-operation on other global issues, saying the partnership offered "a model for international cooperation".

Ties between the two nations have warmed considerably since the days of France's refusal to support the US-led invasion of Iraq under President George W Bush - something directly noted in the opinion piece.

"A decade ago, few would have imagined our countries working so closely together in so many ways. But in recent years our alliance has transformed," the two men wrote.

With rancour over the Iraq War a fading memory, the two countries now find themselves largely in step on a wide range of issues.

France's robust military response to threats in Mali and the Central African Republic, its tough stance on Iran's nuclear programme and Mr Hollande's willingness to join the US in air strikes on Syria, have vaulted France to a leading position among Washington's traditional allies.

Home and abroad

Mr Hollande also has more immediate domestic concerns he might hope to address with his trip.

French President Jacques Chirac and US President Bill Clinton, joined by their wives, during a 1996 state visit Mr Hollande's trip is the first French state visit to the US since Jacques Chirac visited Bill Clinton in 1996
French President Nicolas Sarkozy with US President George W Bush, during a working visit to the US in 2007 Not the first French president to try to build bridges, Nicolas Sarkozy paid a working visit in 2007
French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing alongside US President Gerald Ford, Anne-Aymone Giscard d'Estaing and Betty Ford, during a visit to the US in May 1976 Arriving by Concorde, French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing visited US President Gerald Ford in 1976

He will hope the first full state visit afforded to a French president since 1996 will bolster his dismal poll ratings, says the BBC's Christian Fraser.

Mr Hollande's approval ratings are stuck at barely 20% and doubts persist over his ability to kick-start the French economy.

It is the first state visit to the US by any head of state since the South Korean president's in 2011.

The run-up to the visit has been overshadowed by Mr Hollande's personal situation.

His long-time partner Valerie Trierweiler is not joining him after the breakdown in their relationship following accusations of an affair.

The invitations to Tuesday night's formal White House dinner had to be destroyed and re-printed in the wake of the separation. Ms Trierweiler is now reportedly on holiday on an Indian Ocean island.

'On notice'

There may also be some awkward questions for Mr Hollande on Iran. Last week more than 100 French business executives, including delegates from oil major Total and car manufacturer Renault, travelled to Tehran, hoping to build better relations ahead of a possible easing of sanctions.

Valerie Trierweiler giving a press conference at a school in outside Paris in December 2013. Now thought to be in Mauritius, Ms Trierweiler is not going to Washington

It stood in sharp contrast to the tough diplomatic stance on Iran by both the US and France.

US Secretary of State John Kerry warned: "The companies will be sanctioned if they sign contracts before a nuclear deal is done, and they know it. We have put them on notice."

On Tuesday Mr Hollande and Mr Obama will hold a news conference and visit Arlington National Cemetery - in this, the 70th-anniversary year of the Allied landings in Normandy during World War Two.

During his time in the US, Mr Hollande will also travel to San Francisco and meet chiefs of Silicon Valley giants including Facebook, Twitter and Google.

There he may face questions over his government's desire for uniform taxation on internet companies - many of them US-based - that skirt high taxes in France.

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