President Joe Biden will host his first state visit at the White House for French President Emmanuel Macron on December 1, the White House confirmed, marking the return of a tradition not seen since before the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We’d like to announce that President Joe Biden and first lady Dr. Biden will host President Emmanuel Macron and Mrs. Brigitte Macron of France for a state visit to the United States on December 1st, 2022. This will be the first state visit of the Biden-Harris administration,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during Monday’s press briefing.
The state visit, which will include a state dinner, “will underscore the deep and enduring relationship between the United States and France – our oldest ally,” Jean-Pierre said.
“Our close relationship with France is founded on our shared democratic values, economic ties and defense and security cooperation. The leaders will discuss our continued close partnership on shared global challenges and areas of bilateral interest,” she added.
Biden is holding his first state dinner more than halfway through his term in office – later than previous US presidents. Jean-Pierre acknowledged Monday that “Covid certainly has delayed many of the in-person events a president traditionally hosts at the White House,” but highlighted previous White House visits by world leaders earlier in Biden’s term.
The tradition of the White House state visit – which is typically a multi-day affair that entails formal ceremonies, meetings and a glitzy black tie dinner – has been dwindling.
The Trumps welcomed the Macrons for their administration’s first state dinner in 2018. Their second and final state visit took place in 2019, when the White House hosted then-Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The Trumps were also slated to host the King and Queen of Spain in 2020 – an event that was postponed indefinitely due to the pandemic.
Macron and Biden have spoken to one another several times since Biden took office in January 2021. Most recently, they met last week in New York as world leaders gathered for the United Nations General Assembly. The two discussed the ongoing war in Ukraine, Iran, the Indo-Pacific and challenges posed by China, according to the White House.
Biden and Macron held their first formal meeting in June 2021 during the G7 Summit in England, walking away having relayed that they were on the same page. Macron heaped praise on Biden as being “part of the club” following a more fraught relationship with former US President Donald Trump.
Macron, now in his second term, has emerged as the leading voice to advocate for the European Union. Since the warm G7 meeting, a number of global challenges have emerged, setting Macron up to distinguish himself on the world stage.
A failed deal for France to produce nuclear-powered submarines for Australia caused a major international rift.
In September 2021, the French government recalled its ambassadors to the US and Australia for consultation in response to an announced national security partnership that would provide the US-produced submarines to Australia – abandoning a $90 billion existing deal with France to provide their submarines to the country.
Later that fall, Biden admitted that his administration was “clumsy” in its handling of the deal, saying he was “under the impression that France had been informed long before that the deal was not going through.” And earlier this summer, France’s defense minister said the country aimed to rebuild its relationship with Australia.
Western leaders, including Biden and Macron, have broadly united in their opposition to combat Russia’s ongoing war on Ukraine.
France has also been a key player in negotiations to curb Iran’s nuclear program.
Pressed on Monday whether the decision to host France was about mending ties following some rifts earlier in Biden’s term, Jean-Pierre responded, “We deeply value our relationship with France. … We work closely with France on the full range of global challenges, as you all know, including the war in Ukraine. It is for these reasons that the President and first lady thought it was important to welcome this close and valued partner to the White House for their first state visit.”
This story has been updated with additional reporting.