Biden and Macron talk together, without mentioning the discord over Gaza

President Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron stressed Saturday how much they agree with each other on world affairs, including the war in Ukraine, even as their countries expressed sharply different views on the fighting in Gaza between Israel and Hamas.

Appearing briefly together before reporters after two days of D-Day reminiscences and hours before a lavish state dinner at the Elysée Palace in Paris, the two presidents refused to answer any questions and hid their sharp differences on the Middle East. Instead, both affirmed the enduring strength of the Franco-American partnership on climate, the economy, European security and cultural ties.

“Today I proudly stand with France to support freedom and democracy around the world,” Biden said, as the two men emerged from a closed-door meeting at the Elysée Palace.

“We agree on this war raging in Ukraine,” Macron noted, and added that he hopes that “all G7 members will accept a solidarity fund of 50 billion dollars for Ukraine,” referring to the Group of 7 industrialized countries. nations.

The French president's comments suggest the two leaders have reached common ground on a plan to leverage proceeds from frozen Russian assets to provide an advance loan of up to $50 billion to Ukraine. American officials had said before the meeting that France was the main obstacle to such a plan and that they hoped to gain support during the visit to Paris.

On Gaza, Macron underlined his government's support for the Israeli ceasefire proposal that Biden has strongly supported. But the French president also directly challenged Israel to do more to provide aid to Palestinians suffering from government bombing.

“It is unacceptable that Israel does not open all checkpoints to humanitarian aid, as the united international community has requested for months,” Macron said. He said Israeli operations in Gaza “should cease.”

France supported the International Criminal Court's decision to seek arrest warrants against the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza. On the contrary, Biden condemned this attempt, calling it an unconscionable comparison between the two leaders. France also voted at the United Nations in May to include Palestine as a full member of the organization, which the United States opposes.

Neither Biden nor Macron mentioned any of the disagreements over the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Unlike the usual practice in which American presidents meet with foreign leaders, French and U.S. journalists were not allowed to ask questions after Saturday's statements, which lasted a total of 16 minutes. In most cases, the two leaders allow journalists from each country to ask at least two questions.

John Kirby, White House national security spokesman, declined Saturday to explain why that wasn't the case.

“That was the agreement that was made,” he told reporters earlier in the week. “As you know, in any bilateral meeting or, in this case, a state visit, everything is discussed between the two sides. And during our discussions and planning for this visit it was decided that this was what they would do: they would come out and make statements to the press.”

Macron's warm embrace of Biden, despite tensions in the relationship, was in stark contrast to the mood of President Donald J. Trump's visit in November 2018. Minutes before Air Force One landed in Paris, Trump published a message online accusing Macron of being “very offensive”. Macron then gave a speech in which he attacked nationalism a few weeks after Trump declared himself an American nationalist.

On Saturday, by contrast, Macron praised Biden as “a partner who respects Europeans,” a line that sounded like a distinction from Trump, who often disparaged European leaders. “Thank you for standing by Europe,” Macron said.

“You have become a good friend,” Biden said in response.

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