France‘s President François Hollande embarked on his first full state visit to the U.S. this Monday. Despite excited talk of a “renewed alliance” between the two countries and a full raft of issues to discuss, from Syria and Iran to trade and the malingering French economy, much of the speculation about the French leader’s trip to Washington and the West Coast has centered on his more personal relationships. Don’t expect Hollande to seek U.S. advice on that score. Here, including extracts from Hollande’s exclusive interview with TIME on Jan. 24, are four more things NOT to expect from his American sojourn.
- Do NOT expect tensions over revelations by Edward Snowden that the NSA routinely spied on French citizens. In his Jan. 24 interview with TIME, President Hollande described these revelations as “a difficult moment. Not just between France and the United States but also between the Europe and the United States. It was doubtless difficult for the Americans themselves to see that practices that should never have existed had taken place.” But he made clear he saw this as an opportunity to leverage a better intelligence relationship for France. “I spoke to President Obama as soon as the facts were exposed,” he said. “I wanted to know everything that had happened. And at the same time I used the serious revelations, that there had been eavesdropping by our own friends, to build a new cooperation in the field of intelligence. So my visit to the United States will in fact enable us to set principles and to reset the basis of the relationship between our intelligence services, to ensure that trust is reestablished.”
- Do NOT expect Hollande to refer to the euro zone “crisis.” He told TIME: “It’s over.” He did add a small philosophical flourish: “That’s not to say there’ll never be a crisis again. That would be a very hazardous forecast. Capitalism produces wealth but also crises. What is the role of states or economic unions such as Europe? They have the mechanisms to prevent crises, or can resolve them when they occur.”
- Do NOT expect France to downplay its role in the world or its importance as an ally of the US. “The ties that were established [on Hollande’s first visit in 2012] between President Obama and myself have continued to strengthen. We have regular conversations on the global big issues, through all the negotiations and all the summits that we take part in. But I’d focus on three examples: in Mali, France was the first country to intervene –that was my decision—but I had throughout all the information, all the intelligence, and the entire logistical support of the United States. I was deeply grateful. The second subject was the Middle East, the Iranian crisis, where we worked together and even if sometimes there were some discussions, there were never any tensions. And we were able to reach a good agreement on [Iran’s] nuclear program. This is France’s special position: France is a solid ally of the United States but always retains its independence.”
- Do NOT expect an empty chair next to President Obama at tomorrow’s State Dinner. Hollande’s split from former First Lady Valérie Trierweiler left a gap in the placements but White House officials have worked out a new table plan.