Presidents Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron sat down for central talks of a pomp-filled French state visit on Thursday, with the two leaders eager to discuss the war in Ukraine, concerns about China’s growing assertiveness in Indo- Pacific and European dismay over aspects of Biden’s climate law signing.
Biden will honor Macron with the first state dinner of his presidency on Thursday night, but first the two leaders met in the Oval Office to discuss the difficult issues they face.
At the top of the agenda is the nine-month war in Ukraine in which Biden and Macron face headwinds as they try to maintain unity in the US and Europe to keep economic and military aid flowing to Kyiv while tries to repel the Russian forces. .
“The decisions we make today and in the years to come will determine the course of our world for decades to come,” Biden said at an arrival ceremony.
Macron, at the start of the face-to-face meeting, acknowledged the “difficult times” in Ukraine and called on the two nations to “better synchronize our actions” on the climate.
The leaders began their talks shortly after hundreds of people gathered on the South Lawn on a sunny, cold morning for the ceremony that included a 21-gun salute and a troop review. Ushers distributed small French and American flags to guests who gathered to watch Biden and Macron begin the state visit.
Both leaders at the ceremony paid tribute to the long alliance of their countries. But they acknowledged that tough times lie ahead as Western unity shows some wear and tear nine months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In Washington, Republicans are poised to take control of the House, where Republican leader Kevin McCarthy has said lawmakers from his party will not write a “blank check” for Ukraine. Across the Atlantic, Macron’s efforts to hold Europe together will be tested by the rising costs of supporting Ukraine in the war and as Europe battles rising energy prices that threaten to derail economic recovery. post pandemic.
Macron at the arrival ceremony stressed the need for the United States and France to hold the West together as the war continues.
“Our two nations are sisters in the fight for freedom,” Macron declared.
Amid talks about maintaining unity, trade differences cast a shadow over the visit.
Macron has made it clear that he and other European leaders are concerned about incentives in a new climate-related law that favors American-made climate technology, including electric vehicles.
He criticized the legislation, known as the Inflation Reduction Act, during a lunch on Wednesday with US lawmakers and again during a speech at the French Embassy. Macron said that while the Biden administration’s efforts to curb climate change should be applauded, the subsidies would be a huge setback for European companies.