Francois Hollande’s two dinners in one night - one with Obama and one with Putin

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 June, 2014, 9:48pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 June, 2014, 4:42am

French President Francois Hollande certainly won't go hungry tomorrow night. He's dining twice - first with Barack Obama, then with Vladimir Putin.

It will be a digestive and logistical challenge, but is seen as the best way for him to keep apart two leaders who are at odds.

Hollande is hosting at least 18 heads of state this week to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy.

The American and Russian presidents are among them, but do not plan one-on-one talks.

Tensions between the US and Russia are increasing because of the unrest in Ukraine.

Hollande will be the first Western leader to meet individually with Putin since pro-European protests overthrew Ukraine's pro-Moscow president, Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula and the US and European Union imposed sanctions over Russia's actions in Ukraine. French and Russian diplomats in Paris said Hollande would host two consecutive dinners. Obama comes first, then two hours later it's Putin's turn.

One of the meals might take place outside the presidential palace to reduce the chances of Obama and Putin running into each other, a French official said.

A Russian diplomatic official said the schedule was being carefully measured to ensure that each visiting president got sufficient time with the French leader.

A French diplomatic official on Monday played down talk that Hollande was trying to act as a peacemaker and bring Obama and Putin together.