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Biden, Macron to discuss Israel and Ukraine in pomp-filled state visit

2 min

Fresh from commemorating the 80th anniversary of D-Day, French President Emmanuel Macron will host U.S. President Joe Biden on Saturday for a state visit marked by pomp and a parade as well as talks on trade, Israel and Ukraine.

France's President Emmanuel Macron and US President Joe Biden, next to his wife Jill Biden, meet WWII veterans during a ceremony at the Arc of Triomphe, in Paris, on June 8, 2024, LUDOVIC MARIN/Pool via Reuters

Fresh from commemorating the 80th anniversary of D-Day, French President Emmanuel Macron will host U.S. President Joe Biden on Saturday for a state visit marked by pomp and a parade as well as talks on trade, Israel and Ukraine.

The two men, who share a warm relationship despite past tensions over a submarine deal with Australia, will participate in a welcoming ceremony with their wives at the iconic Arc de Triomphe and a parade down the Avenue des Champs-Elysees before holding a meeting about policy issues and then attending dinner.

Biden hosted Macron for a state visit at the White House in 2022.

"France is ... our oldest and one of our deepest allies. And this will be an important moment to affirm that alliance and also look to the future and what we have to accomplish together," U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters earlier this week.

Sullivan said talks between the two men would touch on Russia's war with Ukraine, Israel's war with Hamas in Gaza, cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, and policy issues ranging from climate change to artificial intelligence to supply chains.

White House spokesperson John Kirby said the countries would announce a plan to work together on maritime law enforcement and the U.S. Coast Guard and French navy would discuss increased cooperation.

Biden and Macron are also expected to discuss strengthening NATO, and both have pledged their countries' support for Ukraine, though they have not agreed yet on a plan to use frozen Russian assets to help Kiev. A U.S. Treasury official said on Tuesday the United States and its G7 partners were making progress on that.

Biden met with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Paris on Friday, apologizing for a months-long delay by the U.S. Congress in approving the latest package of aid, and Zelenskiy addressed France's National Assembly.

During a speech at the American Cemetery in Normandy (Sp) on Thursday, the anniversary of the allied assault against Nazi German occupiers on French beaches in World War Two, Biden called on Western powers to stay the course with Ukraine.

Macron and Biden will also confer on the situation in the Middle East.

Biden has been a staunch supporter of Israel, which is pursuing Hamas after it attacked the country in October, but tens of thousands of Palestinian deaths have soured Biden's left-leaning political base on Israel, hurting him as he runs against Republican Donald Trump for re-election in November.

Beyond Ukraine, trade issues between the two sides of the Atlantic are likely to loom large.

The U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, which Biden signed into law in August 2022, has incensed European officials; they see it as a protectionist move that siphons off investments from EU companies.

Macron said during his state visit to Washington in 2022 that the package of subsidies could "fragment the West" and weaken the post-COVID European recovery at a time Washington is seeking allies against China and both sides confront Russia.

He and European allies have won little concessions from Washington since, however, and French officials say their aim for this visit is still to try to "re-synchronise" the U.S. and EU economic agendas.

By Jeff Mason and Michel Rose

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