© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech while hosting a reception for the mayors of France, at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, France, November 23, 2022. Michel Euler/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
By Michel Rose, Steve Holland and Simon Lewis
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden’s welcome to French President Emmanuel Macron at the White House’s first state visit on Thursday since the U.S. Democrats took office in early 2021, is being discussed by political leaders. Officials from both countries celebrated it as a recognition of France’s status as America’s oldest. ally.
The visit also highlights the unique way in which Macron has elevated France’s standing on the world stage, and in particular in the United States. Since coming to power in 2017, Macron has launched a series of international initiatives that have made him one of the most active global leaders.
From Beirut to Bangkok, and from the Kremlin to the White House, he always manages to put himself at the center of every crisis, with a keen ability to seize the moment.
At the White House, experts say Macron is expected to confront Biden over new US subsidies that anger European leaders and the two leaders may disagree on the outcome in politics. books of Ukraine and China.
But Macron’s importance to Washington is clear, former and current officials from both countries said. Notably, he is also the first foreign leader to be invited by former President Donald Trump for an official state visit.
Mathieu Droin, a former French Foreign Ministry official, said that considering the turmoil that has come from London, Berlin or Rome in recent years and “although the French vision and strategy is not always something that the US has desirable, but at least it’s fairly understandable and consistent.” Fellow and visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
Supporters say Macron has brought energy and creativity to the quiet world of diplomacy, such as his bold campaign to “Make Our Planet Great Again” or a show New European Forum (ECP) to unite Europeans against Russia.
Critics say his provocative style could backfire and he has divided Western allies with scathing comments about Nato’s “brain death” in 2019 and his views on the matter. Russian President Vladimir Putin.
However, senior Biden administration officials credit the French president as a leader in the G7, NATO, the United Nations Security Council and for promoting European Union support for Ukraine when It tries to repel the Russian invasion.
“If you just look at the last year, France is really at the center of almost every national security issue that’s important to the American people and our allies,” a National Security spokesman said. White John Kirby (NYSE:) said.
Macron is expected to raise French and European concerns about Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the $430 billion bill billed as the largest climate change package in US history. United States, providing conditional tax relief on US-produced content and EU industries said to have invested. in Europe is less competitive.
The White House defended the bill as necessary to promote the electric vehicle industry and other clean energy initiatives, and said subsidies played an important role.
Kirby told reporters traveling with Macron on Tuesday that there had been “very productive discussions” about the IRA and that “the team here is exploring options.”
Officials said Biden and Macron are expected to consult on how to continue helping Ukraine as the country faces a winter with many electric power facilities bombed by Russia. Macron will hold an international conference on the issue in Paris on December 13.
They also plan to discuss China, after both met with Chinese President Xi Jinping two weeks ago in Bali and before Macron visits Beijing early next year. Macron is exploring a “third path” toward China, neither confrontational nor naive, while Biden urges his fellow NATO leaders to stand up to authoritarianism and military might China’s growing.
“Our views on China are not the same. But I think there is a strong view that we should talk in a common scenario in response to China,” one of the US officials said.
When asked why Macron was honored to be Biden’s first state guest, the White House cited Macron’s “longevity at work” and his involvement in European and global affairs.
“He has shown leadership, certainly within the G7, the longest of any of us, including the president,” Kirby said. “And I think it’s also a recognition of his unique personal leadership on the Continent.”
The visit comes a year after Mr Macron was angered by an agreement between Australia, Britain and the US in which Australia would buy US-made nuclear-powered submarines instead of the diesel submarines it signed. purchase contract from France.
The French president was so worried about being blindsided by the deal that canceled a multi-billion dollar contract for France that he recalled the French ambassador to the United States, Philippe Etienne, back to Paris for consultations.
After Biden publicly apologized, Macron appeared less appeased, saying, “Trust is like love: Claims are good, but the evidence is better.”
The French official, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity, said the two governments overcame confrontation and as a result France enjoyed closer coordination in the Indo-Pacific region. Positive.
Macron arrives on Wednesday and will visit NASA headquarters with Vice President Kamala Harris to highlight US-French cooperation in space before having a private dinner with Biden and his wife Jill, before a state dinner on Thursday.
Finally, “France is seen as a country that doesn’t refrain from speaking its mind, which sometimes makes people uncomfortable but that’s also what makes it such a valuable partner,” Droin said. .