President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, welcome the Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, and his wife, Empress Farah, as the royal couple arrives at the White House for a state dinner in their honor on April 11, 1962. Entertainment included the first ballet performance given in the White House, according to the White House Historical Association.
The Shah’s second state visit to the United States was designed for the two leaders, meeting for the first time, to get to know each other better. Their talks focused on the importance of U.S. economic development and military aid to Iran to help keep it resistant to nearby communist pressures. Iran’s leader, considered an ally at the time, was greeted in Washington by flag-waving crowds. Byron RollinsAP
King Baudouin of Belgium, and his hosts, President Dwight Eisenhower and his wife, Mamie, walk toward the White House dining room on May 11, 1959. The state dinner guest list included former president Herbert Hoover, who had supervised Belgian relief efforts during World War I.
The two leaders spoke about their countries’ shared belief in peace following World War II and their participation in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Baudouin then embarked on a tour of the United States, with special emphasis on visiting military installations as well as nuclear power plants and aircraft and automobile factories, according to the White House Historical Association. HBAP
Prime Minister Errol W. Barrow of Barbados, and his American-born wife, Carolyn, pose, Sept. 11, 1968 with President and Lady Bird Johnson at only the second state dinner held in the Rose Garden.
The Barrows had embarked on their first visit outside the Caribbean since the tiny island gained its independence from Great Britain in 1966. The prime minister brought his blunt talk to Washington as well as his admiration for Johnson. The two leaders talked about the sugar trade and tourism industry. AP
President Gerald Ford, center, with his wife Betty, right, toasts Queen Elizabeth II, left, following a state dinner at the White House on July 7, 1976. About 7,000 people waving Union Jacks greeted the Queen earlier during an arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House.
The Queen’s visit, held in commemoration of the American bicentennial, was more ceremonial than other state visits with the two leaders repeatedly pledging their bonds of friendship despite their countries’ complicated history. John DurickaAP
A table setting topped by the program and menu for the state dinner hosted by President George W. Bush for Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is seen in the State Dining Room of the White House May 19, 2003.
During the state visit, Bush hailed the Philippines as a new ally in the war on terrorism and ordered a new deployment of U.S. troops to help the island nation combat rebels on multiple fronts, announced $100 million in new aid and equipment to help the Philippine armed forces and designated the Philippines as a "major non-NATO ally.” Charles DharapakAP
President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, welcome British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, center, on the North Portico of the White House on Dec. 17, 1979.
The two leaders had met twice before in 1977 when Thatcher was not yet prime minister, but they did not hit it off and, according to published reports, Carter told his staff never again to schedule a meeting with an opposition leader. After Thatcher was elected, the two became closer as Carter’s relations with other European leaders soured and he faced the Iranian hostage and Afghan invasion crises. Dennis CookAP
President Enrique Peñaranda of Bolivia, left, signs the Declaration by the United Nations as President Franklin Roosevelt looks on during a state dinner at the White House on May 5, 1943.
With his signature, Peñaranda pledged all of his country’s resources to fight the Axis nations in World War II. His was the 32
signature. The two leaders discussed accelerated production of tin for the war effort, according to the White House Historical Association. Bolivia was the only tin producer in the Western Hemisphere. George R. SkaddingAP
First lady Betty Ford, center left, and decorator Betty Sherrill, center right, look over the table settings in preparation for a state dinner in honor of Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, at the White House on July 7, 1976. It was the first White House state dinner telecast live, although logistical and circumstantial errors marred the quality of the broadcast, according to the White House Historical Association. AP
President Ronald Reagan stands with Mexican President Miguel de la Madrid during arrival ceremonies on the South Lawn at the White House on May 15, 1984.
The two leaders had met before but the visit marked de la Madrid’s first state visit to Washington. Paying tribute to Mexico's president at a state dinner has become a tradition in the United States since Valentine's Day 1977, when Jimmy Carter hosted Mexican President Jose Lopez Portillo. Reagan and de la Madrid were meeting in hopes of preventing differences over problems in Central America from hurting the overall relationship between their two governments. AP
Flanked by U.S. military personnel, President George W. Bush, left, and his wife, Laura, with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, right, and his wife, Gursharan Kaur, before the state dinner, on July 18, 2005.
The visit, a rarity in the United States at that time for a new Indian leader, received considerable attention as Bush sought to enhance relations with the South Asian nation. The U.S and India had drifted apart during the Cold War, but Bush raised India’s status as a strategic ally. The relationship was considered one of Bush’s biggest foreign policy successes. Haraz GhanbariAP
President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara, pose with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife, Raisa, before a state dinner at the White House on May 31, 1990.
During the visit, Bush and Gorbachev signed what was considered the broadest arms reduction agreement in two decades that called for the countries to scrap 25 percent and 40 percent of their respective nuclear stockpiles. J. Scott ApplewhiteAP
President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, pose with Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji, right, and his wife Madame Lao An, left, prior to a state dinner at the White House on April 8, 1999 that included performances by cellist Yo-Yo Ma and Wu Man, who played the pipa, an ancient Chinese four-stringed lute.
The visit came at a tense time between the United States and China. The U.S. was concerned about spying and influence-peddling allegations as well as longtime differences over trade and human rights. China was upset by NATO airstrikes in the Balkans and a U.S. initiative to provide a missile-defense shield for Japan and Taiwan. Despite those issues, Clinton backed China’s membership in the World Trade Organization. Khue BuiAP
At the most recent state visit, Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a surprise visit to the Lincoln Memorial on April 27, 2015, using the opportunity to spend time together before formal meetings and a dinner at the White House. That month marked both the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, as well as President Abraham Lincoln’s death.
During the visit, Obama and Abe spoke of security and the 12-nation trade pact Trans-Pacific Partnership and vowed to work together on a host of issues from maritime disputes to cyber threats. Pablo Martinez MonsivaisAP