In the meeting between Biden and Macron, the Russian attack on Ukraine takes center stage

US President Joe Biden and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on Thursday celebrate more than 200 years of Franco-American relations, but a secret dispute is taking place over new subsidies under US law to reduce inflation.

The Russian attack on Ukraine is likely to be in top of the issues discussed by the two presidents, as both seek to bolster support for the Ukrainian military.

The US president hosts his French counterpart on his first visit to the US since Biden took office in charge in early 2021.

Biden and his wife, Jill, show an interest in adding pomp and hospitality through lavish reception ceremonies and a lavish state dinner, for which 200 live lobsters were brought from Maine.

The two leaders are expected to hold talks before holding a joint press conference at 11:45am EST (1645 GMT). Macron and his wife, Brigitte, arrived in Washington on Tuesday for their second visit to the United States of America since joining in charge in 2017.

Biden (80 years old) and Macron (44 years old) have met several times in international forums, but this time the two presidents will have more time together.

And the two leaders dined on Wednesday, in an Italian restaurant in historic Georgetown, in a kind gesture from the US president.

Macron is expected to discuss with Biden French and European concerns about subsidies under the US Inflation Reduction Act, which provides massive $430 billion worth of subsidies for US-made products and aims to tackle the climate crisis.

European leaders say the law, which Biden signed into August, is unfair to non-US companies and will be a major blow to European economies as Europe tries to control the fallout from Russia’s attack on Ukraine that began in February.

In an interview with Reuters, in On the condition of anonymity, a participant in Wednesday’s meeting with US lawmakers at the Library of Congress said Macron described the inflation-cutting law as “very aggressive” towards European companies.

Macron told the French community in Washington that the cost of war in Ukraine was much higher in Europe than in the United States and that Europe risked being left behind if the subsidies provided for by US law succeeded in attracting new investments. Macron has warned that this could “divide the West”. And there was no indication that Biden was willing to compromise.

When asked about European concerns, White House spokeswoman Karen Jean-Pierre said the law “presents important opportunities for European companies, as well as benefits for the EU’s energy security.”

Macron is the first foreign leader to be invited to an official dinner at the White House during Biden’s term, indicating the importance Washington attaches to its relationship with Paris despite some differences with the Biden administration.

Macron’s visit follows a meeting attended by NATO foreign ministers, in pledged to provide more aid to Ukraine to help it counter Russian attacks on energy infrastructure as winter approaches.

And US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced that NATO, of which the United States and France are founding members, also discussed how to address the challenges arising from China’s escalation of military might and its cooperation with Russia. Macron said in previously that China should not be at the heart of NATO.

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