Biden and Macron present united front against Russia in first state visit

WASHINGTON President Biden said he had no “immediate plans” to contact Russian President Vladimir Putin, but would be “prepared” to speak with him if the Russian president was interested in finding a way to end the war in Ukraine.

Biden made the remarks during a joint press conference Thursday afternoon with French President Emmanuel Macron at the White House, where the two leaders joined the front to support Ukraine against Russian aggression. Mr. Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden welcomed the French president and his wife, Brigitte Macron, to the White House on Thursday for the first state visit of the Biden presidency.

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“The fact of the matter is, I don’t have any immediate plans to contact Mr. Putin,” Biden said, when reporters asked about a potential future conversation he might have with the Russian president. “I am ready to talk to Mr. Putin if in fact there is an interest in him deciding he is looking for a way to end the war. He has not done that. If that is the case, in consultation with my French and my NATO friends, I will be happy to sit down with Putin to see what that’s on his mind. He hasn’t done that. Meanwhile, I think it’s very critical, what Emmanuel said – we have to support the Ukrainian people. . The idea that Putin will ever defeat Ukraine is incomprehensible.”

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Biden said he and the French president reiterated their commitment to stand with Ukraine in talks earlier in the day. The US president said that the US and the French nation also stand with the Iranian people.

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“If I were to list all the areas where cooperation between France and the United States has delivered meaningful progress, we would be here until dinner,” Biden said.

Through a translator, Macron said they were committed to continuing to work together to help Ukrainians resist Russia. Macron said they were working together with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

President Biden Pays State Visit To French President Macron At The White House
President Biden speaks as French President Emmanuel Macron attends a press conference in the East Room of the White House during a state visit on Thursday, December 1, 2022.

Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images


Macron was asked by US reporters if he had petitioned Mr Biden to encourage Ukraine to negotiate an end to the Russian war. Macron said the United States’ support for Ukraine is “very important,” not only for Ukrainians, “but for the stability of our world today.”

“Let me say that our two nations are made of values ​​and history,” Macron said of the US and France, America’s oldest allies. “And what is at stake in Ukraine is not only very far from here in any small country in Europe. But it is about our values ​​and our principles, and it is about what we agreed together in the UN Charter – to protect sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

On matters closer to home, Mr. Biden was asked whether freight workers deserve more sick leave, a major sticking point in contract negotiations that led to congressional action to prevent a strike. A contract negotiated by the White House in September was rejected by four of the 12 railroad unions, threatening a possible national rail labor strike. The agreement includes only one day of paid sick leave, despite a 24% raise for railroad workers. The Senate is expected to vote Thursday on two House-through sizeone imposes an agreed contract and one adds paid sick days to the contract.

“I negotiated a contract that no one can negotiate. The only thing left out is whether there is paid leave,” said Mr. Biden, adding that the US is a rare wealthy nation without guaranteed paid leave. Mr Biden added that he wanted national paid sick leave “not just for railway workers, but for all workers.”

Earlier Thursday, Vice President Kamala Harris, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff and Secretary of State Antony Blinken had arrived for the Macrons’ arrival, and a military band played both nations’ national anthems before the two leaders addressed the crowd.

“As my friend and I have discussed, France is our oldest ally. Our steadfast partner in the cause of freedom,” the US president said, offering appreciation for France’s cooperation in defending democracy.

Mr. Biden and Mr. Macron both noted the importance of standing up for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression.

“France and the United States face the bottom of the ambition to capture Vladimir Putin for conquest, and Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine, which has once again shattered peace on the European continent,” said Mr. Biden. “France and the United States once again defend the values ​​of democracy and universal human rights that are at the heart of both our nations. The source of our strength is our shared commitment to liberty and justice for all – liberté, égalité, fraternité.”

US President Biden and Mrs. Biden receive French President Macron and Mrs. Macron for an official State Arrival Ceremony at the White House in Washington
French President Emmanuel Macron and President Biden stand together for the playing of their nation’s national anthem in the South Field at the White House on December 1, 2022.

JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS


At the top of the bilateral meeting, Mr. Biden said that Macron has been a commanding leader not only in France, but in Europe. Macron stressed the need for “sustainable peace,” and said they wanted to “fix” the direct and indirect consequences of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Mr Macron also thanked Mr Biden for a dinner he and his wife shared with the president and first lady on Wednesday night at Filomena, an upscale Italian restaurant in Washington, DC

Mr. Biden and the first lady will host the Macrons for a state dinner, an event the first lady previewed on Wednesday. Between 300 and 400 guests are expected to attend the event on the South Lawn, where temperatures are expected to be in the upper 30s or low 40s by Thursday evening.

As an official gift, the president and first lady gave the Macrons a special mirror made from wood that fell from the White House grounds. It is a mirror reproduction for the White House collection that hangs in the West Wing. Mr. Biden also gave the French president a custom vinyl collection of great American musicians.

Biden and Macron have spoken several times during the president’s time in office and met on the sidelines United Nations General Assembly in September.

Macron also traveled to the US for a country visit hosted by former President Donald Trump in 2018. First elected to lead France in 2017, Macron defeated far-right challenger Marine Le Pen to get a second term in April.

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