|US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron at the White House, Washington DC, December 1, 2022. Photo: Andrew Harnik/ AP
President Macron’s visit takes place amid unstable transatlantic relations. In September, 2021, France recalled its ambassador in Washington for consultations when Paris became infuriated by the US’s agreement to sell nuclear submarines to Australia. Canberra canceled a multi-billion dollar order for French submarines in favor of an alternative deal with the US and the UK as part of the AUKUS alliance. In October, the tumultuous relationship between the two long-standing allies continued to sour when Macron criticized the US for a "double standard" in selling gas to Europe at a price many times higher than the domestic price.
On global issues like the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the Iran nuclear agreement, and the free and open Indo-Pacific strategy, however, France and the US have shared quite similar views and taken coordinated action. The US, France, and their European acted with other allies and partners to impose sanctions on Moscow and provide financial aid and weapons to Ukraine. The US and Europe are working to revive the Iran nuclear deal, implementing a free and open Indo-Pacific strategy, handle the Korean peninsula nuclear issue, and promote the Middle East peace process.
|US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron attend a joint press conference at the White House, Washington DC, December 1, 2022. Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP/ Getty Images
The agenda of the Macron-Biden summit on Thursday included Iran's nuclear program, China's increasing influence in the Indo-Pacific, security and stability concerns in Africa's Sahel region, and Russia's military campaign in Ukraine.
On Tuesday President Macron had a meeting with US Vice President Kamala Harris, who said France is an important US ally and his visit demonstrates how strong their partnership is. After a Wednesday meeting at the Pentagon between US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu, the US Defense Department issued a statement saying: “Secretary Austin and Minister Lecornu reinforced the importance of upholding the strong bilateral cooperation our countries maintain, and signed a Joint Statement of Intent codifying our shared principles. The leaders also discussed support for Ukraine, the strength of the NATO Alliance, and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.”
Observers said Macron’s trip is a further step toward consolidating and improving the US-France relationship and overall US-European ties. Now all eyes are on whether it will have a beneficial effect on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Last week, an adviser to the French president told reporters that soon after his US trip President Macron will speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin.