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French president hosts Japanese crown prince at Versailles

Last Updated Sep 12, 2018 at 5:41 pm EDT

Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito, center left, speaks with French President Emmanuel Macron during a meeting at the Chateau de Versailles, west of Paris, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito is for a nine-day goodwill visit in France. (Ludovic Marin/Pool via AP)

VERSAILLES, France – French President Emmanuel Macron and Crown Prince Naruhito, Japan’s next emperor, made a toast to continued friendship between their nations Wednesday in the sumptuous surroundings of the Chateau of Versailles.

Macron and his wife, Brigitte, hosted an official dinner for Naruhito, who began a nine-day goodwill visit to France over the weekend. The dinner marked a showpiece moment of the prince’s trip.

During a pre-dinner speech dwelling on the dense web of connections and history that tie France and Japan, Macron said hosting the prince at Versailles showed the “respect, esteem and friendship we have for Japan.”

Macron recalled previous visits made to France by the prince’s father, Emperor Akihito.

“France hasn’t forgotten, just as it won’t forget your visit,” he said.

Macron and Naruhito also attended a theatre performance at the glittering palace west of Paris.

The 58-year-old prince will inherit Japan’s Chrysanthemum throne when the 84-year-old emperor abdicates next year.

Naruhito’s visit marks 160 years of diplomatic relations between France and Japan.

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