Biden, Macron, Pledge Cooperation on Russia, Middle East

President Joe Biden met with French President Emmanuel Macron in Washington, DC, seeking to heal a trade rift and present a united front on massive international issues including Ukraine, Russia, and the Middle East. 

The Biden hosted their first state dinner with state leaders in a grand affair in DC for visiting heads of state.

The US president was speaking on Thursday while hosting Macron for the first state visit of his presidency. The leaders expressed unity in support of Ukraine’s war against Russia but faced questions about their differences in trade.

Biden met with Macron and other European leaders over trade, admitting there are “glitches” in $739bn legislation that he says can be fixed.

Thursday’s event saw 300 to 400 guests join Biden, President Macron, and their wives inside a large heated tent on the complex’s South Lawn and will feature a live musical performance from Jon Batiste, the former musical director of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

This dinner comes nearly two years into  Biden’s presidency. It is one of the longer waits for a president to host his first state dinner, a reflection of the Covid pandemic’s impact, experts say. 

It also marks a second U.S. state dinner for Macron, who was first the recipient of a state dinner hosted by President Donald Trump, in 2018.

Before the dinner, the state visit of Macron to Biden discussed many important issues, especially about the Middle East and about Ukraine, and Russia. Biden and Macron devoted a significant part of their joint statement to the Middle East on Thursday. 

The two leaders vowed to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and committed to engaging with allies in the Middle East region. 

The pair welcomed the launch of the Negev Forum, which was formed under the Biden administration to usher in a new era of cooperation in the region between Israel and other states.

The two leaders also vowed unity on Ukraine and to move to end subsidy tensions. 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the biggest attack on a European state since 1945, remained the most pressing issue for the leaders, who vowed to continue robust support and to back Kyiv during the tough winter months.

Biden has so far resisted talking to Putin since the invasion was launched in February, while Macron has kept lines of communication open. Russia calls the war a “special operation.”

Macron also said he would continue to talk to Putin to “try to prevent escalation and to get some very concrete results” such as the safety of nuclear plants.

The two leaders also sought ways to ease some economic tensions in Oval Office talks.

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