The big dinner: power + politics
The table setting for the state dinner held in honor of Chinese President Hu earlier this year.
April 4th, 2011
05:20 PM ET

The big dinner: power + politics

Washington (CNN) - It's the ultimate intersection of power and social connections.  In a town where as much is accomplished in a social setting as behind a desk, Washington power brokers should take note: the Obama's are hosting a state dinner for German Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit in June. 

The White House notes the historic significance of Merkel's visit, the first by a German head of state is nearly 20 years.  That last state visit was in 1992 by then German President Richard von Weizsäcker, just two years after the fall of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany.  Merkel herself grew up in East Germany.  She won the 2010 Medal of Freedom and President Obama will award it to her during the June visit. 

But there's is also the undercurrent of world events on the agenda including Germany's reluctance to join NATO allies in instituting a no-fly zone over Libya.  The White House announcement of the German visit said the two leaders are expected to discuss "Afghanistan, the Middle East, Iran, and on promoting human rights and global economic stability and growth."

Since coming into office two years ago, the Obamas have hosted world leaders from China, Mexico and India.  The first and perhaps most remembered state dinner was the 2009 one for India's Prime Minister Singh, where a Virginia couple infamously crashed the party. 

The White House Historical Association says state dinners have evolved since King David Kalakaua of the Sandwich Islands, later named Hawaii, was hosted by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1874.  Last year the Obamas hosted Mexico's President Felipe Calderon and First Lady Margarita Zavala.  The traditional dinner was followed by what President Obama called "the real party", entertainment which included pop star Beyonce.  How can they top that?

Topics: Germany • President Obama • State Dinner • The News

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