PARIS – After increasingly strained U.S.-France relations under Donald Trump, President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed Sunday to work closely together to fight the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.
Their first conversation since Biden’s inauguration aimed at mending frayed ties between the historic allies. Biden “stressed his commitment to bolstering the transatlantic relationship” via NATO and the EU. Macron pledged his “determination to work at the side of the U.S.”
After four years of “America First” under Trump, the new U.S. president and French leader see eye-to-eye on the importance of international cooperation to fight climate change and COVID-19 and in negotiating with Iran.
But Macron’s office said the two men wouldn’t shy away from thorny issues. France is notably pushing for globally consistent taxes on U.S. tech powerhouses such as Google or Amazon, which led to an ongoing trade dispute with Washington under Trump. And the U.S. and EU are imposing tit-for-tat tariffs over subsidies to plane makers Boeing and France-based Airbus.
Macron stressed the importance of working jointly within the World Health Organization – which Trump abandoned – to help ensure vaccine distribution to poor countries.
According to a White House statement, Biden agreed to work with France on China, the Middle East, Russia and the Sahel region of Africa, where France is leading an international military operation against Islamic extremists.
Despite starkly different political views, Macron and Trump developed a surprisingly chummy relationship early on - including a fawning White House reception for the French leader and intimate Eiffel Tower dinner for the two first couples — that later soured amid Trump's increasingly mercurial and protectionist policies.