Biden has convinced allies ‘America is back,’ says France’s Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters Saturday that President Biden has “definitely” convinced allies that “America is back” as a cooperating partner on the global stage as the two leaders met on the sidelines of a Group of Seven (G-7) summit.
Macron used brief comments to the press to commend Biden’s leadership and said his willingness to cooperate would enable allies to tackle global challenges such as the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.
“For all these issues, what we need is cooperation, and I think it’s great to have the U.S. president part of the club and willing to cooperate, and I think that what you demonstrate is that leadership is partnership,” Macron said.
“I’ve said before, we’re back. The U.S. is back,” Biden replied. “We feel very, very strongly about the cohesion of NATO, and I for one think that the European Union is an incredibly strong and vibrant entity that has a lot to do with the ability of western Europe to not only handle its economic issues but provide the backbone and support for NATO.”
When a reporter asked Biden if he has indeed convinced allies that “America is back,” he directed the reporter to ask the question of Macron.
“Definitely,” Macron replied.
The genial nature of the meeting stood in contrast to awkward and at times contentious engagements between Macron and former President Trump, who clashed with European leaders over his “America first” foreign policy and unilateral actions on trade and other issues.
Trump and Macron famously sparred over the direction of NATO during a summit of the alliance at the end of 2019.
Saturday’s bilateral meeting represented the first formal meeting between Biden and Macron since the American president took office, though the two spoke informally during the events on Friday.
In a subsequent readout, the White House said that Biden and Macron agreed to deepen ties between the U.S. and France during their bilateral meeting Saturday. They discussed cooperation on the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change and “reaffirmed their commitment to reform the international tax system to address some of the inequities created by globalization,” the White House said.
They also discussed efforts to “strengthen and modernize NATO,” counterterrorism cooperation, China, and Russia, according to the readout.
Biden went into the G-7 summit in Cornwall, England, the first stop on his first trip abroad as president, hoping to reaffirm and strengthen partnerships with European and Asian allies, particularly in the face of a rising China and increasingly hostile Russia.
While Biden’s public engagements with Macron and other leaders have been friendly, European officials nevertheless remain wary of U.S. reliability, given that U.S. foreign policy could shift again depending on who is elected in 2024. Most of the three-day program is happening out of sight of the public.
Biden is expected to have some tough conversations with allies behind the scenes about his effort to create a unified approach to confronting and competing with China.
Biden pressed G-7 leaders to call out China’s forced labor practices during a session on Saturday, U.S. officials said.
After the G-7 meeting, Biden will travel to Brussels to attend a NATO summit and a U.S.-European Union summit before what is expected to be a contentious face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva.