Biden and Macron affirm commitment to Ukraine but diverge on willingness to speak with Putin



CNN

US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday displayed a united front on the ongoing war in Ukraine but gave different answers about their willingness to talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who broadcast that they spent their latest meeting discussing the invasion.

During a joint White House news conference with Macron, Biden told reporters he had “no immediate plans” to contact Putin, but said he was open to talking to the Russian leader if he was looking for a way to end the war in Ukraine. Biden has made it clear that Putin has not yet done so.

“He miscalculated across the board,” Biden said of Putin after a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office with the French president. “So the question is … how does he get out of the situations? If he’s willing to talk, I’m willing to find out what he’s willing to do, but I’ll only do it in consultation with my NATO allies. I’m not going to do it on my own.”

Macron said he would be willing to talk to Putin once Ukraine sets conditions for a peace deal. The French leader told ABC’s “Good Morning America” ​​that he intends to speak with the Russian president as early as Thursday.

Strong US support, Macron also broadcast, “is very important not only for Ukrainians … but for the stability of our world today. Because if we consider that we can abandon the country and abandon full respect for these principles, it means there is no stability in this world,” France’s own increased military , pledged financial and humanitarian support.

2018 marked the first time in Donald Trump’s administration that a trip to the White House by a French president with his spouse Brigitte Macron as guests of honor for a state visit. Thursday’s agenda for Biden’s first state visit since taking office is filled with formal fanfare, with a list of events intended to highlight the strength of the crucial relationship between the US and its oldest ally.

At the start of the news conference, Biden called the US and France “strong partners and our most capable allies”, noting that “Emmanuel is also a friend and the president of that great country”.

In his opening remarks, Macron praised Biden for fulfilling campaign commitments related to addressing international challenges, saying, “We are able to engage with you again.”

“I can say again how pleased we are with your choices, which are very consistent with your history and your campaign commitments. You have returned to international challenges such as health and climate – this is truly a new deal,” the French leader said.

Earlier Thursday morning, Macron stepped onto the South Lawn of the White House for an official arrival ceremony, where he was greeted by top French and US officials and thousands of other attendees. The pomp-filled program included military honours, a 21-gun salute, national anthems of both countries, a soldier’s review and remarks by the two leaders.

At the ceremony, Biden referred to Macron as “close friends,” saying, “It is 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 an “old ally” and “unwavering partner” of the United States, referring to the history of the relationship from Lafayette to the beaches of Normandy. The alliance will “grow stronger for decades to come,” he said.

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

Macron’s return for another state visit follows a dramatic bounce-back in US-French relations, which saw the French disappear just over a year ago, when Macron took the unusual step of recalling his ambassador to Washington over the US-Australia submarine deal. 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 over the past year in their united efforts to confront the war against Ukraine.

The Élysée announced that Macron gave the president four gifts: a vinyl and CD of the soundtrack to the movie the first couple saw on their first date – “Un homme et une femme”, a cup from the House Christophle symbolizing the connection between France and the US, a sweater from the House Saint James and a watch from LIP Horlogerie. . She gave the First Lady copies of “Madame Bovary” and “Plague, The Fall, Exile and Kingdom and Selected Essays”. He also gifted Vice President Kamala Harris with a model of an 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 at a media preview before a state dinner in honor of French President Emmanuel Macron in the State Dining Room of the White House.

According to the White House, the president and first lady of the United States were presented with a custom mirror made from wood that fell from the White House grounds, a reproduction of the mirror that hangs in the West Wing. In addition, the French president was gifted a custom vinyl collection of great American musicians as well as “an archival facsimile print of Thomas Edison’s 1877 patent of the American phonograph,” 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 discussions for an Oval Office meeting that lasted just under three hours. Opening the meeting, Biden reiterated the importance of the alliance.

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

Macron said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would be one of the main topics of their discussion, and that a “sustainable peace” would respect 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.

US and French officials do not expect the visit to yield any major deliverables, but both sides see it as an opportunity to deepen their partnership on global challenges. The two sides are expected to lead working group discussions launched in the wake of last year’s submarine deal to enhance 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 enhance global prosperity, combat climate change, build greater resilience to its impacts and advance democratic values.”

Of particular note, he wrote, strongly condemning Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine and the deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure constitute war crimes and their perpetrators should be held accountable.

In the Indo-Pacific, the two leaders pledged to “continue to reconcile our concerns regarding China’s challenge to the rules-based international order, including respect for human rights, and to work together with China on key global issues such as climate change.”

There are areas of disagreement that are expected to come up.

A big sticking point is the billions of dollars in electric vehicle subsidies included in the Inflation Reduction Act, which apply only to those made in North America. Macron has criticized the move, saying protectionist and French officials intend to raise the issue in meetings with Biden and congressional leaders. At Thursday’s news conference, Biden confirmed that he had discussed the matter in detail.

He said the US would make “no apologies” for the Inflation Reduction Act, but admitted there were “some flaws” and that changes to the law needed to be made.

Macron agreed with Biden and reiterated his belief that they are going to “resynchronize” and that he is not looking for an exemption for his economy but to “discuss the implications of this legislation.”

In their joint statement, the US and France reaffirmed their shared goal of “accelerating the global green energy transition. They look forward to the work of the US-EU Task Force on the Inflation Reduction Act to further strengthen the US-EU partnership on clean energy and climate through mutually beneficial ways.”

After their morning at the White House, Jill Biden and Brigitte Macron visited Planet Word, a language-focused museum in Washington. President Macron Also attended a lunch at the US State Department.

On Thursday evening, Macron returned to the White House for the first state dinner of the Biden administration. French guests include film director Claude Lelouch, Louvre museum director Laurence des Carres and LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault, the French official said.

The White House list of state dinner attendees includes comedian Stephen Colbert, MSNBC hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, fashion designer Christian Louboutin, Lauren Powell Jobs, ABC’s Robin Roberts, musician John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, Vogue’s Anna Wintour, and film director Anna Luhrmann. , as well as actresses Jennifer Garner, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Ariana DeBose. Biden family members, cabinet members, politicians and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle — including Republicans Steve Scalise and Kevin McCarthy — were also on the list of attendees. New Orleans native John Batiste will be handling the musical selections.

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

On the last 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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