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Joe Biden visits Paris, says France “our first friend”

Joe Biden visits Paris, says France “our first friend”

President Biden said France was America’s “first friend” at its founding and is one of its closest allies more than two centuries later as he was honored with a state visit Saturday by French President Emmanuel Macron aimed at showing off their partnership on global security issues and easing past trade tensions.

Biden and Macron attended ceremonies marking the 80th anniversary of D-Day on Thursday and met separately the following day with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Paris.

The leaders both used those engagements used to underscore the urgent need to support Kyiv’s fight against Russia’s invasion.

The state visit began with a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe, including a wreath-laying at France’s tomb of the unknown soldier, and a military parade along the Champs-Élysées leading to the Élysée Palace, where the two held official meetings and delivered public statements. Later, there was a state dinner held at the palace for Mr. Biden and his wife, first lady Jill Biden.

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“United we stand, divided we fall,” Macron said in toasting Mr. Biden at the state dinner. “Allied we are and allied we will stay.”

The American president followed Macron’s toast by saying the U.S. and France have been “unyielding as well as unwavering in our partnership,” adding, “That’s what democracies do.”

Mr. Biden and Macron put the war in Ukraine at the top of Saturday’s agenda, but it was the strength of the countries’ long alliance, fortified at Normandy 80 years ago but with roots far deeper, that was the centerpiece of the weekend.

Calling himself a student of French history, Biden said the visit was a “great honor” and he noted that America’s ties to France date to the Revolutionary War.

“France was our first friend,” Mr. Biden said. “It remains one of our best friends.”

Macron praised Biden as not just the leader of a world power but also for bringing the “clarity and loyalty of a partner that loves and respects the Europeans.”

It appeared to be a subtle criticism of former President Donald Trump, whose “America First” foreign policy has shaken European leaders. They are now contending, gingerly, with the possibility of his return to power next year should the presumptive Republican nominee defeat the Democratic incumbent in November’s election.

Macron hosted Trump for Bastille Day in 2017, and the French president came to Washington for a state visit in 2018 before their relationship soured.

 

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