RPT: PREVIEW - Biden To Host Macron For Talks On Ukraine, China, Trade Row

WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 30th November, 2022) US President Joe Biden will host French President Emmanuel Macron this week as the two meet to discuss a slew of issues ranging from strategy around Ukraine and China to easing economic and trade tensions.

Macron's five-day trip, which marks the first state visit of the Biden-Harris administration, comes a little more than a year after France's relationship with the US took a nosedive following Washington's sale of nuclear submarines to Australia.

Macron begins his visit on Wednesday in a meeting with US Vice President Kamala Harris at NASA's headquarters in Washington to discuss bilateral cooperation in space. The French president will also attend a working lunch at NASA on climate and biodiversity issues with members of Congress.

Harris and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will host a state luncheon for the Macrons on Thursday, according to the White House, which spokesman John Kirby said is "an opportunity to highlight a foundational component of this administration's approach to foreign policy - and that's through alliances."

The bulk of the state visit will take place on Thursday, starting with an official arrival ceremony, before the leaders sit down for bilateral talks. The visit culminates in a state dinner at the White House that evening.

In addition to holding bilateral talks with Biden, Macron's US tour includes a historic visit to New Orleans later in the week.

When Biden and Macron meet at the White House on Thursday, US officials say they are expected to have a bilateral discussion with a long agenda including Ukraine, Iran's nuclear program and China's increasing presence in the Indo-Pacific region.

"I think China will be on the very top of the agenda between the two leaders," one US official said on Monday. "Europe has its own interests - our views on China are not identical but I think there is a strong view that we should be speaking from a common script in response to China."

But, US officials stressed that the Russian war in Ukraine will be "front and center" during the Oval Office meeting, with both presidents working to maintain military and economic support for Kiev.

With respect to Ukraine, Biden and Macron will discuss the country's energy infrastructure needs as winter approaches, the US official said.

Another topic of discussion will be the conference France will host in early December to develop Ukraine's resilience in the future, the US official added.

"I expect our presidents to continue discussing ways that they can support Ukraine, not only in terms of its energy security needs, but also with security assistance needs, humanitarian assistance, budgetary support," the US official said.

The two leaders will have a substantive conversation on economic and energy security elements including increased US supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe ahead of the coming winter, green energy, unfair trade practices by China, and the EU's concern that the Inflation Reduction Act is diverting investment away from Europe, the US official said.

EU countries fear it could possibly spark a trade war between the United States and its European partners, according to media reports.

The two presidents will also host a joint news conference followed by visits to the State Department and Capitol Hill.

On Friday, December 2, Macron will travel to New Orleans, where he is expected to highlight the historic connection between his country and the region.

It will be the first time a French President visits the city since 1976.

According to French newspaper Le Figaro, Macron is expected to announce a fund to finance French language education as well as speak about climate issues with Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards.

Macron is also supposed to tour the French Quarter, where he will discuss culture and music, the news outlet said.

New Orleans was founded in 1718 by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, a French explorer and colonial administrator. The town served as the French territorial capital before becoming part of the US in the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.

France left a lasting impression on the city, with remnants of its architecture along with traditions such as the famous festival called Mardi Gras ("Fat Tuesday" in French).