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French President Macron visits New Orleans


For the first time in almost 50 years, a French head of state visited New Orleans this week. Louisiana is a former French colony, and the state welcomed President Emmanuel Macron. Carly Berlin from member station WWNO in New Orleans reports.


CARLY BERLIN, BYLINE: Live music poured into the streets as President Macron arrived in New Orleans. First stop for the French president - the French Quarter. Crowds gathered as he toured the city's historic district. Thibauld Boyer (ph) is a French citizen, an exchange student who happens to be spending the semester in New Orleans. Boyer said he was pleased to see his president mingling with the crowd.

THIBAULD BOYER: And he just took the time to speak to us, to give interest in what we were saying to him. So it was very unexpected, but for the good way.

BERLIN: In his speech, Macron remarked on what he called the unique history of New Orleans. America, France and Africa are all represented here, he said. He's speaking here via an interpreter.


PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON: (Through interpreter) It is the history of men and women of all colors that did not speak the same language, that did not have the same religion, the same faith, but who in the end got together for one single reason.

BERLIN: That reason, Macron said, was to build a common future. Earlier in the day, he met with Louisiana's governor. The two pledged to abide by a climate change agreement. It would appoint a kind of climate change ambassador from France to come to the state. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said it could open up an economic relationship as well.


JOHN BEL EDWARDS: We'll also look for opportunities for Louisiana companies to directly engage in France.

BERLIN: Macron had several other meetings, including a brief and mysterious conversation with Elon Musk. The meeting with the billionaire Twitter owner was not previously scheduled. Macron said in a tweet, the two had a, quote, "clear and honest discussion" about topics including the environment and online content moderation. At the end of the night, Macron finished his speech with a famous New Orleans saying. Long live France, long live Louisiana and let the good times roll.


BERLIN: For NPR News, I'm Carly Berlin. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Carly Berlin