Macron arrives at the White House for first state visit of the Biden administration



CNN

US President Joe Biden is taking part in a series of events as part of his first state visit since taking office, meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron after welcoming him and his wife Brigitte Macron on Thursday.

The Macrons’ trip to the White House marks their second time as guests of honor for a state visit, having first done so during Donald Trump’s administration in 2018. Thursday’s agenda is filled with formal pomp, with a slate of events designed to highlight the strength of the critical relationship between the United States and its oldest ally.

The Macrons stepped onto the South Lawn of the White House for an official arrival ceremony Thursday morning, where they were greeted by a long list of top French and American officials, as well as thousands of other attendees. The splendid program included military honors, a 21-gun salute, national anthems of both countries, a review of the troops and remarks by the two leaders.

President Biden called the Macrons “close friends” during the ceremony, noting it was “a real honor to host 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 an “unwavering partner,” citing a history of relations from Lafayette to the beaches of Normandy. He said the alliance “will grow stronger in the coming decades.”

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

The Macrons return for another state visit, also after a dramatic return to 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 multi-billion dollar defense contract. The rift appears to be largely behind them, and Biden and Macron have deepened their ties even more over the past year in their united efforts to fight the war against Ukraine.

The Élysée announced that Macron gave the president four gifts: a vinyl and a CD of the soundtrack of the film the first couple saw on their first date – “Un Homme et une Femme”, a glass from the house Christophe, which symbolizes 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.

First Lady Jill Biden and White House staff present the menu during a media preview before a state dinner honoring French President Emmanuel Macron, in the White House State Dining Room.

The U.S. president and first lady unveiled a custom mirror made from a fallen tree from the White House grounds, a reproduction of a mirror that hangs in the West Wing, according to the White House. In addition, the French president was presented with his own vinyl collection of great American musicians along with “an archival facsimile print of Thomas Edison’s 1877 American phonograph patent,” the White House said. And the first lady presented Mrs. Macron with a pendant necklace designed by a French-American designer.

After the official arrival ceremony at the White House, Biden and Macron began bilateral talks. Before taking part in a joint press conference, the two leaders are expected to hit on a number of issues, including topics of mutual interest – such as Ukraine, Iran and China.

At the start of the bilateral meeting in the Oval Office, Biden reiterated the importance of the alliance.

“Things are changing fast, really fast. And it’s really important to stay in close communication. It doesn’t mean that 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 conversation 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.

The American and French authorities do not expect the visit to bring any major results, but both sides see it as an opportunity for the two countries to deepen their partnership on a range of global challenges. The two sides will also advance working group discussions launched after last year’s submarine affair to boost cooperation on space, cyberspace and energy issues.

However, there are areas of disagreement that are expected to emerge.

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

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

On Thursday night, the Macrons 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 did not reveal who was invited to attend Thursday night’s lavish dinner, but said in a preview that John Baptiste of New Orleans will perform musical selections.

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

During the final leg of their US visit, the Macrons will travel to New Orleans on Friday to highlight new efforts to expand French-language education in the US.

This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.

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