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Thursday, February 2, 2023
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Biden, Macron pledge US-French alliance on Ukraine, democracy

At a lavish, late dinner under a glass pavilion on the White House South Lawn, Biden concluded his toast by saying, "Vive la France!" or "long live France."

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US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron emerged from White House talks Thursday pledging to close ranks in helping Ukraine and pressuring Russia’s Vladimir Putin to make peace.

Following lengthy Oval Office talks, they also signaled they’d calmed the waters on a burgeoning US-EU trade dispute.

Read more: Macron blasts Biden on industrial subsidies

Addressing a joint press conference on the second day of Macron’s rare state visit to Washington, both leaders emphasized their desire to forge a powerful transatlantic alliance supporting democracy — and facing down Russia and China.

On Ukraine, Biden said, “We reaffirm that France and the United States together, with all our NATO allies and the European Union and the G7, stand as strong as ever against Russia’s brutal war.”

The US leader also said that he would be ready to meet with Putin but only “if he is looking for a way to end the war.”

It was Biden’s strongest suggestion so far that he would be prepared to sit down with Putin, but Macron said they both agreed “we will never urge the Ukrainians to make a compromise that will not be acceptable for them.”

Read more: Biden turns 80, but White House in no mood for a party

– Trade dispute –

The state visit — the first such formal occasion since Biden took office in January 2021 — symbolized how Washington and Paris have buried last year’s bitter spat over the way Australia pulled out of a French submarine deal in favor of acquiring US nuclear subs instead.

At a lavish, late dinner under a glass pavilion on the White House South Lawn, Biden concluded his toast by saying, “Vive la France!” or “long live France.”

In his toast, Macron quoted from the US Constitution and said both countries had often fought together to protect democracy. Referring to election deniers trying to overturn polls in the United States, he said that it was time to stand “shoulder to shoulder” again.

The occasion had seemed to be at threat of being overshadowed by a dispute over US subsidies for the emerging green technology economy. However, both leaders signaled they had managed at least to defuse the row following one hour and 45-minute talks in the Oval Office in the morning.

“We agreed to discuss practical steps to coordinate and align our approaches so that we can strengthen and secure the supply chains, manufacturing and innovation on both sides of the Atlantic,” Biden told their joint news conference.

“We agreed to resynchronize our approaches,” echoed Macron.

The issue revolves around Biden’s signature policy, the Inflation Reduction Act or IRA, which is set to pour billions of dollars into environmentally friendly industries, with strong backing for US-based manufacturers.