Biden, Macron pledge 'unwavering' alliance; trade dispute lingers
President Joe Biden welcomes President Emmanuel Macron to the White House with full military honors and a pledge to maintain the "unwavering" US-French alliance.
President Joe Biden welcomed President Emmanuel Macron to the White House on Thursday with full military honors and a pledge to maintain the "unwavering" US-French alliance ahead of talks on Ukraine, China, and a looming trade dispute.
The two presidents emerged from White House talks Thursday pledging to close ranks in helping Ukraine "defend itself from Russia" and in facing the "challenge" posed by China.
The leaders issued a joint statement following Oval Office talks, which Biden said demonstrated their countries' "unwavering" alliance.
They "outlined a shared vision to strengthen security and increase prosperity worldwide, combat climate change, build greater resilience to its effects, and advance democratic values," the statement said.
The two reaffirmed support for Ukraine and the provision of all forms of assistance to Ukraine "for as long as it takes."
As a matter of fact, French President Emmanuel Macron pledged more support for Ukraine and vowed to not push Kiev into any peace talks with Russia that it does not agree with.
"We will never urge the Ukrainians to make a compromise that will not be acceptable for them," Macron said in a White House press conference.
The French President claimed that there was a "real willingness" on the part of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to pursue a path to peace, adding, "Our job must be to work together with him."
On China, they said, "The United States and France will continue to coordinate on our concerns regarding China's challenge to the rules-based international order, including respect for human rights, and to work together with China on important global issues like climate change."
Marines, army, air force, and even a detachment of soldiers dressed in 18th-century "Revolutionary War" garb paraded in front of the White House. A 21-gun salute was fired.
Standing alongside Macron on a red-carpeted podium, Biden stated, "France is our oldest ally, our unwavering partner in freedom’s cause."
Macron, like Biden, noted that the two countries had fought many wars along each other's side. On the Western alliance assisting Ukraine in the ongoing war, Macron said, "We need to become brothers in arms once more."
Biden, on his part, stated that France and the United States were working together to "facing down" Russia, which had "shattered peace" in Europe.
According to Macron, a long-term solution to the Ukraine crisis will necessitate decisions from Moscow and Kiev, as well as international guarantees to back them up. When asked what a successful peace would look like, Macron replied, "A sustainable one."
"It is two parties to decide and the rest of the international community to be here to guarantee and to protect," he added.
Macron: US, France 'succeed together, not against each other'
In another context, French President Emmanuel Macron said the United States and Europe should not oppose each other and that Europeans should raise industrial ambitions -- following complaints over US support for green business.
"We want to succeed together -- not against each other," Macron told a White House news conference with US President Joe Biden.
"We Europeans need to move faster and stronger to have the same ambition."
In response, US President Joe Biden said he had agreed with French leader Emmanuel Macron on harmonizing both sides' approaches to climate and energy issues amid European concerns over alleged US protectionism.
"We agreed to discuss practical steps to coordinate and align our approaches so that we can strengthen and secure the supply chains, manufacturing and innovation on both sides of the Atlantic," Biden told a joint news conference after summit talks in Washington.
"We agreed to resynchronize our approaches," echoed Macron.
On the first day of a state visit to Washington, French President Emmanuel Macron couldn't hold himself but throw a massive undiplomatic remark at his US hosts, saying that the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) subsidies were posing a major threat to French competitors.
Following the meeting with Biden, in an attempt to ease Macron's concerns, Biden said his efforts to create US jobs were not intended to be at Europe's expense after complaints by French President Emmanuel Macron over state support to the green industry.
"My point is -- we're back in business, Europe is back in business. And we're going to continue to create manufacturing jobs in America, but not at the expense of Europe," Biden told a joint news conference with Macron.
Earlier, an AFP journalist reported he heard the French President tell US lawmakers and business people, "This is super aggressive for our business people."
"You will perhaps fix your issue, but you will increase my problem," he said, referring to the Inflation Reduction Act.
They had just invited him to lunch ahead of his meeting with US President Joe Biden scheduled on Thursday.
The French head of state will remain in the US on an official five-day visit that kicked off on November 29 and will last through December 3.
China high on agenda
On the other hand, trade tensions are only part of the uncomfortable flip side to the red carpet occasion.
Another source of dissatisfaction in Europe is the high cost of US liquid natural gas exports, which have risen to compensate for canceled Russian deliveries.
There is also disagreement about how to deal with China's "rise as a superpower." With Washington pursuing a more "hawkish tone" and EU powers attempting to find a middle ground, the question is unlikely to see much progress.
Read next: Biden to host Macron at state dinner to discuss Iran, China, Africa
"Europe has since 2018 its own, unique strategy for relations with China," tweeted French Embassy Spokesperson Pascal Confavreux in Washington.
According to White House National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby, China will be "very high on the agenda" this week, but both countries have a broad approach. "We believe that not only France, but every other member of the G7 -- frankly, our NATO allies too -- see the threats and challenges posed by China in the same way."
Read next: Macron urges the US to take part in talks to settle Ukraine conflict
Macron says plans to talk to Putin after meeting with Biden
The French President said he will have a phone conversation with Putin following his meeting with Biden.
"In the coming days," Macron told ABC news when asked when he expects to speak with Putin. "I want to first have the state visit and I'll have an in-depth discussion with President Biden and our teams together."
However, according to Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin's work plans do not include a phone conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron.
"Not yet," Peskov said when asked if a phone call is coming up.
On his part, US President Joe Biden said he was willing to speak to Vladimir Putin for the first time since the Ukraine war "if the Russian leader truly wants to end the war."
"I'm prepared to speak with Mr. Putin if in fact there is an interest in him deciding he's looking for a way to end the war. He hasn't done that yet," Biden told a joint news conference with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, who has maintained dialogue with Putin.