By Justin Sink - 02/11/14 10:15 AM EST
President Obama said Tuesday afternoon that he would accept an invitation to visit Normandy this June to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
Obama made the announcement during a joint press conference with French President Francois Hollande, who had earlier invited Obama to attend the ceremony.
"This will be a strong message because we will commemorate the sacrifice made by those soldiers. But we will also celebrate reconciliation and peace," Hollande said.
Obama will become the first president to visit the D-Day memorial ceremonies twice during his presidency. He marked the 65th anniversary of the landings in 2009. President George W. Bush marked the 60th anniversary in 2004 and delivered a Memorial Day address there in 2002.
During a greeting ceremony earlier in the day, Obama recognized two veterans of the 1944 battle for the French beaches.
"It's no exaggeration that we stand here because of each other," Obama said. "We owe our freedom to each other. Of course, we Americans also thank our French friends for so much else, this capital city designed by L'Enfant; our Statue of Liberty, a gift from France; and something many Americans are especially grateful for: New Orleans and the French Quarter."
Hollande stressed that the alliance between the two nations would "enable us to make this world a better place, a safer place, a more humane place."
"We stand together with the United States to address the threats of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and chemical weapons, together to solve the crises faced by the Middle East, together to support Africa's development, and together to fight global warming and climate change," he said.
Following the ceremony, the leaders walked to the Oval Office for a series of policy meetings on issues in the Middle East and Northern Africa. In the afternoon, the pair is scheduled to give a joint press conference.
Later in the day, the Obamas will host Hollande for a state dinner on the South Lawn. The menu includes Illinois caviar, Pennsylvania quail eggs, and a salad from the White House garden. The main course will be rib eye stakes from a Colorado farm, and guests will be entertained by singer Mary J. Blige.
--This report was updated at 12:31 p.m.