Macron and Biden speak at a joint press conference at the White House


US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron are taking part in a joint press conference at the White House, where the pair are expected to discuss what was raised during their meeting in the Oval Office earlier in the day as part of an ongoing state visit to Washington.

The French president’s trip to the White House with his wife Brigitte Macron marks their second time as guests of honor on a state visit, having first done so during the Donald Trump administration in 2018. Thursday’s program for Biden first state visit since the inauguration has been filled with official fanfare, with a slate of events designed to underscore the strength of the critical relationship between the US and its oldest ally.

Earlier Thursday morning, the Macrons stepped onto the South Lawn of the White House for an official arrival ceremony, where a long line of senior French and American officials and thousands of other attendees greeted them. The lavish program included military honors, a 21-gun salute, the national anthems of both countries, a review of the troops and speeches by the two leaders.

During the ceremony, Biden called Macron “close friends,” noting it was “a true honor to host you for the first state visit of my administration and to celebrate the current strength and vitality between France and the United States of America.”

France, Biden said, is the United States’ “oldest ally” and “unwavering partner,” citing a history of relations from Lafayette to the beaches of Normandy. He said the alliance “will grow stronger for decades to come.”

Macron invoked the shared values ​​of the US and France, calling the nations “sisters in the fight for freedom” and called on their countries to “once again become brothers in arms” amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.

This is followed by Macron’s return for another state visit a dramatic rebound in US-French relations compared to just a year ago, when Macron took the extraordinary step of recalling his ambassador to Washington over a US-Australian submarine deal that blindsided the French and cost them a multibillion-dollar defense contract. The rift appears to be largely behind them, and Biden and Macron have deepened their ties over the past year in their united efforts to fight the war against Ukraine.

The Elysée announced that Macron had given the president four gifts: vinyl and a CD with the soundtrack to the film the first couple watched on their first date – “Un Homme et une Femme”, a glass from the house of Christofle, symbolizing the ties between France and the United States. sweater by House Saint James and watch by LIP Horlogerie. He also presented the first lady with copies of Madame Bovary and The Plague, the Fall, the Exile and the Kingdom and Selected Essays. He presented Vice President Kamala Harris with a model of the Ariane 5 rocket – a reference to the common space interests shared by the US and France.

The US president and first lady unveiled a custom mirror made from a fallen tree from the White House grounds, which is a reproduction of a mirror that hangs in the West Wing, according to the White House. The French president was also presented with a personalized vinyl record collection of great American musicians, along with “an archival facsimile of Thomas Edison’s 1877 patent for the American phonograph,” the White House said. And the first lady presented Mrs. Macron with a pendant necklace by a French-American designer.

After the official ceremony of arrival at the White House, Biden and Macron began bilateral discussions. The two leaders were expected to discuss a range of issues, including topics of common interest – such as Ukraine, Iran and China.

Beginning the meeting in the Oval Office, Biden reiterated the importance of the alliance.

“Things are changing fast, really fast. And it’s really important to keep in close communication. That doesn’t mean we agree on every single thing. That means we agree on almost everything,” he said, adding that they would work to strengthen “security and prosperity.”

Macron said the Russian invasion of Ukraine would be one of their main topics of discussion and that “sustainable peace” was about respecting sovereign nations.

“We want to build peace, and sustainable peace means full respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, but at the same time a new architecture to ensure that we have sustainable peace in the long term,” Macron added.

American and French officials did not expect the visit to produce major results, but both sides saw it as an opportunity for the two countries to deepen their partnership on a number of global challenges. The two sides expected to advance working group discussions that were launched after last year’s submarine scandal to boost cooperation on space, cyberspace and energy issues.

In a joint statement after their meeting, the two leaders “outlined a shared vision to strengthen security and increase global prosperity, combat climate change, build greater resilience to its effects and promote democratic values.”

Notably, the two leaders wrote that they “strongly condemn Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine and emphasize that the deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure constitutes war crimes, the perpetrators of which must be held accountable.”

As for the Indo-Pacific region, the two leaders pledged to “continue to coordinate our concerns about China’s challenge to the rules-based international order, including respect for human rights, and work together with China on important global issues such as climate change “.

There are areas of disagreement that were expected to emerge.

One of the biggest points of tension will be over billions of dollars in subsidies for electric vehicles included in the Inflation Reduction Act, which only applies to those made in North America. Macron denounced the measure as protectionist, and French officials said he intended to raise the issue in meetings with Biden and congressional leaders.

In their joint statement, the US and France said they “reaffirm their shared goal of accelerating the global transition to green energy. They look forward to the work of the US-EU Deflation Act Task Force to further strengthen the US-EU clean energy and climate partnership in mutually beneficial ways.”

On Thursday, Jill Biden and Brigitte Macron also visited Planet Word, a Washington museum focused on language. A French official said President Macron is expected to attend a lunch at the US State Department and meet with a bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers.

On Thursday evening, Macron will return to the White House for the first state dinner of the Biden administration. French guests include film director Claude Lelouch, Louvre Museum director Laurence de Carres and LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault, according to the French official.

The White House has not revealed who it has invited to attend Thursday night’s lavish dinner, but said in a preview that New Orleans native John Baptiste will perform musical selections.

On Wednesday, Harris welcomed President Macron to NASA to celebrate the two nations’ collaboration in space. The first family hosted a private dinner with Macron before Thursday’s official state dinner.

On the final leg of his US visit, Macron will travel to New Orleans on Friday to highlight new efforts to expand French language learning in the US.

This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.

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