Ukraine, economic competitiveness to be focus of Macron visit to US: France
The anti-government protests in Iran, the subsequent regime crackdown on demonstrators, and the government vacuum in Lebanon will be among the other talking points when Macron meets with President Joe Biden and senior US officials.
Ukraine and economic competitiveness between the US and France will be some of the main topics when French President Emmanuel Macron makes his first state visit to Washington under the Biden administration later this week.
The anti-government protests in Iran, the subsequent regime crackdown on demonstrators, and the government vacuum in Lebanon will be among the other talking points when Macron meets with US President Joe Biden and senior US officials.
Macron will be in the US this week, where he will meet with Biden, State Department officials and the leaders of both houses of Congress.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity to reporters in Washington, said Macron would be the first French president to make two state visits to the US. Macron was also the first state visit under former US President Donald Trump.
“Being the first state visit under the Biden-Harris administration is really a great honor for our country, and it’s also a really important confirmation of our oldest alliance, but also our strategic partnership in the world of today and tomorrow,” the official said.
Ties between Washington and Paris dipped to an unprecedented low last year following the signing of a security agreement between the US, Australia and the UK, as well as Canberra’s decision to pull out of a French deal for diesel-powered submarines in order to buy US nuclear-powered ones.
But officials from both countries have patched up the relationship, and France’s top diplomat said last month: “France is your [the US] ally and your friend. So is Europe.”
Coordination to help Ukraine fight off the Russian invasion has also provided a boost to the US-French ties, as well as continued cooperation in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
However, there is one major sticking point that France has publicly and privately complained about: the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act.
The act is meant to protect US manufacturers but is seen by EU countries as directly targeting European companies, already facing a dire situation due to Russia’s war on Ukraine and Chinese economic practices.
The French official said Macron would discuss this with Biden and senior US lawmakers on the Hill. Several representatives from French companies will also accompany Macron during his trip.
“I would present [these talks] as a necessity to resynchronize our economic policy developments and to avoid a divergence between us on the subject of our competitiveness,” the official said. “We want to advance with the United States.”
Addressing the Russian war on Ukraine and its impact on Europe, the official said: “We want Europe, like the US, to come out stronger, not weaker, out of this period, especially of the [Russia-Ukraine] war.
The official noted that France is currently one of the top five investors in the US, together with Germany and others.
On Ukraine, France plans to host a donors’ conference for Ukraine in Paris on December 13, according to the French official.
Iran and the Middle East
The official said Iran was to blame for the current stalemate in reviving the now-defunct 2015 nuclear deal while distancing any imminent breakthroughs.
“We have a completely different situation now because of Iran itself, and it’s really worrying. It’s worrying on a number of levels,” the official said.
Tehran has violated its own commitments, including refusing to cooperate with demands from the UN nuclear watchdog agency.
Additionally, Iran has detained, tortured and killed protesters in the aftermath of the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini following her arrest for “improper hijab.”
And in recent months, Iran has openly taken part in the war on Ukraine by providing drones to Russia for use against Ukrainian citizens and critical infrastructure.
The French official said the imprisonment and harassment of French citizens in Iran is another reason there has not been any progress regarding a nuclear deal. “All of this adds to the fact that we are in a very, very clear and difficult moment of our relations with the authorities in Iran.”
Iran is also carrying out strikes against Kurdish targets inside of Iraq, while Turkey has bombed Kurds in Syria and is preparing for a land invasion.
The official reiterated previous French stances that they are “very active” on the issue of the stability and sovereignty of Iraq “in particular.”
On Lebanon, the French official said US-French collaboration remains high in trying to get the Lebanese political class to elect a new president and form a government.
The official thanked Washington for highlighting the French role in brokering the historic maritime border agreement between Lebanon and Israel.
“On Lebanon, only commonalities between the US and France, and I’m sure we will continue to work [on this issue] because it’s a strong, strong priority in the Middle East, both for the US and France.”