US President Joe Biden is taking part in a flurry 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’ trip to the White House marks the second time as guests of honor for a state visit, having done so for the first time during the Donald Trump administration in 2018. Thursday’s agenda is filled with formal fans, with a list of events expected to underscore the strength of the critical relationship between the US and its oldest ally.
The Macrons stood on the South Lawn of the White House for an official arrival ceremony on Thursday morning, where they were greeted by a long slate of top French and US officials as well as thousands of other attendees. The pomp-filled program included military honors, a 21-gun salute, the national anthems of both countries, a review of troops and remarks by the two leaders.
President Biden during the ceremony referred to the Macrons as “close friends,” saying it was “a true honor to host your first state visit of my administration and the current strength and vitality between France and the United States of America that celebration. .”
France, Biden said, is the United States’ “oldest ally” and “unwavering partner,” referring to the history of the relationship from Lafayette to the beaches of Normandy. He said the alliance will “grow stronger for years to come.”
Macron referred to the shared values of the US and France, referring to the nations as “sisters in the fight for freedom” and asking their countries to “become brothers in arms again” amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Macrons return to another state visit also follows a dramatic downturn in relations between the US and France compared to a year ago, when Macron took the extraordinary step of recalling his ambassador to Washington on a submarine agreement between the US and the Australia blinded the French and the French. They cost a multi-billion dollar defense contract. The riff seems largely behind them, and Biden and Macron have deepened their ties over the past year in their united efforts to fight the war on Ukraine.
“Throughout these events, you can expect to see our long shared history as allies on display, as well as our deep partnership … on today’s and tomorrow’s most pressing global challenges ,” White House national security council spokesman John Kirby. reporters said Monday. “While there are specific areas that we hope will make progress during this visit, I would like to point out that this visit is really a celebration of the strong foundation of this relationship: one that is rooted well in our history, from the beginning. the beginning of our country, and we are very much focused on the future – and it is a very dynamic, exciting future that we look forward to.”
Most of the events related to Macron’s state visit are taking place on Thursday.
Before the arrival ceremony, the Elysée announced that Macron gave the president four gifts: a vinyl and a CD of the soundtrack to the film that the first couple saw on their first date – “Un Homme et une Femme”, a cup from the house of Christofle as a symbol. links between France and the US, a sweater from St. James House and a watch from LIP Horlogerie. He also gave copies of “Madame Bovary” and “The Plague, The Fall, Exile and the Kingdom, and Selected Essays” to the first lady. He presented Vice President Kamala Harris with a model of an Ariane 5 rocket – a reference to common interests in space shared by the US and France.
After the official arrival ceremony at the White House, Biden and Macron will hold a bilateral discussion. The two leaders are to tackle a number of issues including matters of common interest – such as Ukraine, Iran and China, before taking part in a press conference.
“I fully expect, in a larger capacity here, that the issue of China will be very high on the agenda in the next few days with President Macron here,” Kirby told reporters on Wednesday.
US and French officials do not expect the visit to yield any major deliverables, but both sides see it as an opportunity for both countries to deepen their partnership on a host of global challenges. The two sides will also promote working group discussions launched after last year’s submarine affair to enhance cooperation on space, cyberspace and energy issues.
Still, there are areas of disagreement that are expected to emerge.
One of the biggest points of tension will be the billions of dollars in electric vehicle subsidies included in the Inflation Reduction Act, which only apply to those manufactured in North America. Macron criticized the move as a defender and French officials said he intended to raise the issue in meetings with Biden and congressional leaders.
On Thursday, Jill Biden and Brigitte Macron are also scheduled to visit Planet Word, a language-focused museum in Washington. A French official has also said that 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 first state dinner of the Biden administration. French guests include film director Claude Lelouch, Louvre Museum Director Laurence des Cars and LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault, according to French officials.
The White House did not reveal who they invited to Thursday night’s elegant 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 had a private dinner with the Macrons before Thursday’s formal state dinner.
During the final leg of their visit to the US, the Macrons will go to New Orleans on Friday to highlight new efforts to expand French education in the United States.
This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.