US President Joe Biden is taking part in a spate of events as part of his first state visit since taking office, welcoming the arrival of French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron, on Thursday.
The Macrons’ visit to the White House marks their second time as guests of honor for a state visit, having first done so during the Trump administration in 2018. Thursday’s agenda is full of formal fanfare, with a list of events expected to strengthen the critical relationship between the US and its oldest ally.
The Macrons arrived at the White House Thursday morning for a formal arrival ceremony.
Elysée announced on Thursday morning that Macron has given the president four gifts: a vinyl and a CD with the soundtrack of the film that the first couple saw on their first date – “Un Homme et un Femme”, a cup from the house of Christofle that the ties between France and the US, a sweater from House Saint James and a watch from LIP Horlogerie. He also gave the first lady a copy of “Madame Bovary” and “The Plague, The Fall, Exile and the Kingdom, and Selected Essays,” by Albert Camus. He gave Vice President Kamala Harris a model of the Ariane 5 missile.
Macron’s return for another state visit also follows a dramatic recovery in relations between the US and France compared to just a year ago, when Macron took the extraordinary step of recalling his ambassador to Washington over a US submarine deal. and Australia that the French and cost them a multi-billion dollar defense contract. The riff seems to be largely behind them, and Biden and Macron have deepened their ties even more over the past year in their joint efforts to fight Russia’s war against Ukraine.
“At all of these events, you can expect to see our long-shared history as allies, as well as our deep partnership… on the most pressing global challenges of today and tomorrow,” said John Kirby, National Security Council spokesman for the United States. White House. told reporters Monday. “While there are specific areas that we expect to see progress during this visit, I want to emphasize that this visit actually serves largely as a celebration of the strong foundation of this relationship: one that is well rooted in our history, from the very get started. beginning of our country, while also being totally focused on the future – and it’s a very dynamic, exciting future that we look forward to.”
Most of the events surrounding Macron’s state visit take place on Thursday.
After the official arrival ceremony at the White House, Biden and Macron will hold bilateral talks. The two leaders will discuss a number of issues, including topics of common interest such as Ukraine, Iran and China, before taking part in a joint press conference.
“I fully expect, in the larger capacity here, that the China issue will be very high on the agenda in the coming days with President Macron here,” Kirby told reporters on Wednesday.
US and French officials do not expect the visit to yield 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 continue working group discussions initiated in the aftermath of last year’s submarine affair to intensify cooperation on space, cyberspace and energy issues.
Still, there are likely to be disagreements.
One of the biggest tensions will be the billions of dollars in electric vehicle subsidies contained in the Inflation Reduction Act, which only applies to vehicles manufactured in North America. Macron has denounced the measure as protectionist and French officials said he plans to raise the issue in meetings with Biden and congressional leaders.
On Thursday, Jill Biden and Brigitte Macron will also visit Planet Word, a language-focused museum in Washington. A French official has also said President Macron is expected to attend a luncheon at the US State Department and meet with a bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers.
On Thursday evening, the Macrons will return to the White House for the Biden administration’s first state dinner. French guests include film director Claude Lelouch, museum director Laurence des Cars and LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault, the French official said.
The White House did not reveal who they invited to Thursday night’s lavish dinner, but said in a preview that New Orleans native Jon Batiste will perform 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 final leg of their visit to the US, 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.