Biden gets supportive ear from Macron on key issues including pandemic

2021-01-26 12:05:22

  US President Joe Biden speaks about administration plans to strengthen American manufacturing as Vice President Kamala Harris listens in the South Court Auditorium at the White House in Washington, on Jan 25, 2021. [Photo/Agencies] US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron have agreed to work together to fight the coronavirus pandemic and climate change. Biden made the traditional ally one of the first European countries he has contacted since his inauguration on Wednesday, and the pair spoke on the phone for about an hour in English, Agence France-Presse reported. A statement from the Elysee Palace said the two leaders on Sunday discussed "their willingness to act together for peace in the Near and Middle East, in particular on the Iranian nuclear issue". According to a White House statement, Biden expressed the US desire to "strengthen bilateral ties with our oldest ally". Quoting the White House statement, Reuters reported that Biden also emphasized his commitment to "bolstering the trans-Atlantic relationship", including through NATO and the US partnership with the European Union. The Associated Press reported that after four years of former US president Donald Trump's "America First" policy, Biden and Macron now see "eye-to-eye" on the importance of international cooperation But the nations also have "thorny issues" to address, AP said. France is "pushing for globally consistent taxes on US tech powerhouses such as Google or Amazon", which has brought about an ongoing trade dispute, and the US and the EU are in disagreement over tariffs related to subsidies to plane makers Boeing and France-based Airbus. Macron reportedly emphasized working jointly within the World Health Organization, which Trump abandoned, "to help ensure vaccine distribution to poor countries". The White House statement added that there was agreement on the need for close coordination, including through multilateral organizations, "in tackling common challenges such as climate change, COVID-19 and the global economic recovery". The two leaders also agreed to work together on issues related to China, the Middle East, Russia and West Africa's Sahel region, where France is leading an international military operation against extremists, according to the statement. The US, under Trump, had repeatedly questioned the NATO alliance and accused other member countries of not "paying their fair share" toward it. Trump pulled the US out of the Paris climate accord in November, claiming it "was designed to kill the American economy" rather than save the environment, AFP reported. Biden reentered the climate accord on his first day in office. According to British newspapers, Biden's first call to a European leader was to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday. The two pledged to "deepen cooperation and work together to tackle climate change", the prime minister's office said.