The White House has referred to France as a “important global partner.”
President Joe Biden will host the first state dinner of his administration on Thursday when he hosts French President Emmanuel Macron at the White House.
On Thursday evening, the president and first lady Jill Biden, as well as the vice president and second gentleman, will welcome President Macron and his wife, Brigitte. The state dinner will be held in a pavilion lit by candles on the South Lawn.
Jill Biden said on Wednesday as she previewed the event, “The design of this dinner was inspired by the shared colors of our flags — red, white, and blue — and our shared values: liberty and democracy, equality and fellowship.” These elements constitute the foundation of our enduring friendship.
The tradition, which has been put on hold for several years due to COVID-19, will highlight the vital partnership between the United States and France, according to administration officials.
John Kirby, a spokesman for the White House, told reporters this week prior to Macron’s arrival, “This visit primarily serves as a celebration of the strong foundation of this relationship, which is deeply rooted in our nation’s history.”
Kirby stated that France has been a “vital global partner” on a variety of issues, including providing support to Ukraine against the Russian invasion and confronting the challenges posed by China. These topics are anticipated to be at the forefront of President Biden and President Macron’s discussions, according to senior administration officials.
At times, however, the bilateral relationship has been strained, such as last year when Australia canceled a massive, multibillion-dollar submarine deal with France in favor of a partnership with the United States and the United Kingdom.
More recently, French officials and other European leaders have voiced concerns regarding the climate and energy provisions included in the expansive Inflation Reduction Act, specifically the tax subsidies for American-made renewable energy technologies, such as electric vehicle components. Leaders of the European Union have stated that the subsidies may violate World Trade Organization rules and will have negative effects on their economies.
In a call with reporters prior to the state dinner, senior Biden administration officials avoided questions about any tension between the two countries. Concerning the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), Biden officials touted a task force that has been discussing these issues with Europeans as having a moderating effect on the situation.
An official stated, “I think it’s been a very constructive series of ongoing conversations between us and our partners in the [European Union], both in terms of their articulation of the challenges they feel they face as a result of the IRA, as well as our articulation of some of the opportunities that we believe the IRA provides.”
A French official told reporters ahead of the state visit that France broadly supported the legislation because it is “absolutely essential” for the U.S. to work toward achieving its climate goals, but that the two countries must “resynchronize” their economic policies in order to “avoid a divergence.”
According to the official, Macron also planned to focus on strengthening African economies and promoting the teaching of French in schools.
Macron, president of France since 2017, was also the first foreign leader invited for a state visit by former President Donald Trump. Initially cordial, their relationship deteriorated due to policy differences on issues such as the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal.
Macron began his U.S. visit on Tuesday at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., alongside Vice President Harris.
The United States and France agreed late last year to cooperate in space and other areas; on Tuesday, Macron thanked Harris for the continued commitment.
Macron stated, “I do believe that space is a new battlefield” and warned of “crazy players,” “rogue states,” and “hybrid attacks.”
Macron stated, “And I think it’s very important, because we share this history.” “We share the same dedication and devotion to science and progress. However, we also share the same democratic values.”
In addition to meeting with Biden, Macron will visit Capitol Hill on Thursday for a discussion with the bipartisan House and Senate leadership.
French officials stated that he will travel to New Orleans on Friday to meet with state leaders and the Francophone community, participate in a cultural event, meet with local businesses involved in the transition to renewable energy, and promote French language instruction in underserved communities in Louisiana.
Wednesday evening, the Macrons and Bidens dined at Fiola Mare, an Italian seafood restaurant in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington.