LONDON — French President Francois Hollande held talks with Prime Minister David Cameron aimed at smoothing over a slew of recent differences as he made his first official visit to Britain on Tuesday.
Cameron welcomed Hollande at the Foreign Office in London with a guard of honor comprising soldiers in red tunics and bearskin hats, and Hollande then stood to attention as a military band played the French national anthem.
Hollande, who came to power in May, will later be received by Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle just outside London for a teatime meeting during which the British monarch will speak in French.
Socialist Hollande played down disagreements with Conservative Cameron over host of issues affecting the two NATO and European Union allies, including tax, financial regulation and the eurozone crisis.
“I have come to reaffirm the strength of relations between France and Britain”, Hollande told a reception of French expatriates at the start of his one-day visit.
“We share positions in several areas, but not in all... It is true that on economic and monetary union we have positions that are, let us say, nuanced.”
Hollande said they shared “many points in common in foreign policy”, citing the crisis in Syria, Iran’s nuclear program, and the French and British cooperation in the NATO air war against Libya in 2011.
Relations between Cameron and Hollande have been difficult since the British leader apparently snubbed then-presidential candidate Hollande when he made an election campaign visit to London in February. — AFP