Politics: Biden on state visit to Macron in Paris

Politics: Biden on state visit to Macron in Paris

French President Macron welcomes his US counterpart Biden with great pomp. The two celebrate their relationship and promise further help to Kyiv. But they do not agree on everything.

US President Joe Biden and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron have pledged continued support to Ukraine – even if the two heads of state do not agree on all the details with regard to Kyiv. The USA stands firmly by the side of Ukraine and its other allies, Biden said on Saturday after a meeting with Macron at the Élysée Palace in Paris. Macron also assured that support for Kyiv would continue for as long and as intensively as necessary. However, the US government had made it clear before the heads of state’s joint appearance that it would not participate in Macron’s new plan to send military trainers to Ukraine.

No enthusiasm for Macron’s initiative

For more than two years, Ukraine has been defending itself against a Russian war of aggression with the help of Western arms deliveries. Recently, there has been repeated discussion about the possible deployment of Western military trainers to the war zone in order to support the Ukrainian army, which is under pressure, more effectively and quickly. According to Macron, France is discussing such a step with other NATO partners. He said on Friday evening that several partners had already given their consent and that corresponding plans should be finalized in the “coming days”.

However, the US government has already made it known that it will not participate. Biden has assured since the beginning of the war that he will not send US soldiers to Ukraine and that he does not want a war with Russia. Nothing has changed in this stance, the White House said on Friday evening.

Neither Macron nor Biden addressed the issue of military trainers during their joint appearance on Saturday. The two simply made brief statements – without answering questions. Macron tried to emphasize their commonalities: “On the Ukraine issue, we have a common position, namely that of respect for international law, the freedom of peoples to govern themselves.”

Hope for G7 agreement on frozen Russian assets

Macron also expressed optimism about an agreement on the use of interest income from frozen Russian assets for Kiev. France and the USA hope that all G7 members will agree to a loan of 50 billion US dollars for Ukraine. The USA had proposed that the G7 could give Ukraine a large loan that would be secured by interest income from frozen Russian central bank funds. The EU states have so far taken a cautious stance on this. A decision on this is to be reached at the meeting of the seven major economic powers (G7) in Italy in a few days.

With regard to the Middle East, Biden and Macron welcomed the release of four hostages from the Gaza Strip. “We will not stop working until all hostages return home and a ceasefire is achieved,” said Biden. Macron also spoke out in favor of these goals. However, he also criticized the situation in the southern city of Rafah and the number of people killed and injured after nine months of war as unacceptable. Nor could it be tolerated that Israel did not open all border crossings for humanitarian aid, as the international community had been demanding for months.

Grand entrance at the Arc de Triomphe

Macron welcomed Biden during the state visit with a pompous ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris: with various military units, a choir, a gendarmerie orchestra and a small air parade. Accompanied by cavalry squadrons, the group then walked along the Champs-Élysées towards the Élysée Palace. A celebratory state banquet was scheduled for the evening there. Biden, for his part, welcomed Macron with great pomp as a state guest in Washington in 2022. Macron was the first foreign guest during Biden’s term in office to be honored in this way.

Biden has been in France since Wednesday and, among other things, took part in the celebrations for the 80th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy. The US government praises France as its “oldest ally” and the relationship between the two presidents as “warm” and “close”. Biden (81) greatly appreciates that Macron (46) is honest and open, said the communications director of the National Security Council, John Kirby, before the meeting in Paris. Both men were not afraid to express their opinions.

However, they often diverge widely. In 2021, for example, there was major resentment over a new security alliance between the Americans and Australia and Great Britain, which caused France to lose a lucrative submarine deal. Biden’s vice president, Kamala Harris, had to travel to Paris to apologize and improve the mood. In 2022, there was a dispute around Macron’s state visit over a legislative package from the USA to boost its own industry and give it preference over foreign competitors.

Source: Stern

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