Washington — President Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron are holding a rare joint press conference Thursday at the White House.
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. Vice President Kamala Harris, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other top Biden administration officials were also on hand to greet the Macrons, and a military band played the national anthems of both nations before the two leaders addressed the crowd.
“As my friend and I were talking, France is our oldest ally. Our unwavering partner in freedom’s cause,” the U.S. president said, offering appreciation for France’s partnership in defending democracy.
Mr. Biden and Macron both noted the importance of standing up for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression.
“France and the United States are facing down Vladimir Putin’s grasping ambition for conquest, and Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine, which has once more shattered peace on the continent of Europe,” Mr. Biden said. “France and the United States are once again defending the democratic values and universal human rights which are the heart of both our nations. The wellspring of our strength is a shared commitment to liberty and justice for all — liberté, égalité, fraternité.”
The two world leaders are holding a bilateral meeting ahead of the news conference.
At the top of the bilateral meeting, Mr. Biden said Macron has been a commanding leader not only of France, but in Europe. Macron emphasized the need for “sustainable peace,” and said they want to “fix” the direct and indirect consequences of Russia’s war on Ukraine. Macron also thanked Mr. Biden for the dinner he and his wife shared with the president and first lady Wednesday night at Filomena, a high-end Italian restaurant in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Biden and the first lady will host the Macrons for a state dinner, an event previewed by the first lady Wednesday. Between 300 and 400 guests are expected to attend the event on the South Lawn, where temperatures are expected to be in the high 30s or low 40s by Thursday evening.
As the official gift, the president and first lady presented the Macrons with a custom mirror made of fallen wood from the White House grounds. It’s a reproduction of a mirror 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.
Mr. Biden and Macron have spoken numerous times over the president’s time in office and met on the sidelines of thein September.
Macron also traveled to the U.S. for ahosted by former President Donald Trump in 2018. First elected to lead France in 2017, Macron defeated far-right challenger Marine Le Pen to in April.