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Biden says U.S., France will stand against Russia's brutality in Ukraine

President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in the East Room of the White House on Thursday.
Susan Walsh
/
AP
President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in the East Room of the White House on Thursday.

Updated December 1, 2022 at 1:50 PM ET

The U.S. and France are reinforcing their partnership to curtail Russian aggression in Ukraine, increase the use of clean energy and cooperate in space exploration, President Biden said during a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron.

The press conference is part of Macron's three-day state visit.

"So Emmanuel, thank you again for all that our nations are doing together for cooperation," Biden said. "My administration built our foreign policy around the strength of our alliances, and France is at the very heart of that."

Macron focused his opening statement on the cooperation between the two allies in supporting Ukraine, addressing clean energy and he praised Biden for bringing the U.S. back into the international scene.

"The fact that you're back on major international challenges such as health and climate, it is really a new deal," Macron said.

Biden was asked about the effort to avert a rail strike, and he defended the deal he wants Congress to pass designed to avoid one – even though that negotiated deal doesn't include paid sick leave for rail workers.

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcome French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron during a state arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House on Thursday.
Andrew Harnik / AP
/
AP
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcome French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron during a state arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House on Thursday.

"What was negotiated was so much better than anything they ever had," Biden said, adding that a strike would cost 750,000 jobs and send the U.S. into a recession.

He insisted the White House will renew its push for paid leave for all workers in all industries after Congress passes this draft deal.

Tensions over Democrats' climate bill

Biden also said he and Macron had a "detailed discussion" on the Inflation Reduction Act. French officials have raised concerns about the law's "Made in America" electric car provisions, which they say could put European carmakers at a disadvantage. And Macron has warned Europe may have to take action in response, including granting subsidies for European companies.

"I wrote the legislation and never intended to exclude folks who were cooperating with us," Biden said during the press conference. "That was not the intention. The intention was to make sure we were no longer in a position when there was a pandemic in Asia and China decided they're going to no longer sell us computer chips. We invented the damn things."

Biden assured that the U.S. would continue to create manufacturing jobs, but not at the expense of Europe.

Macron said he and Biden had agreed to "synchronize our approaches" on emerging industries in order to "create more industrial jobs in the long run."

The two nations are focused on Ukraine

Biden and Macron both agreed that there needs to be support for Ukraine in its war against Russia. But Biden also said he had "no plans to contact" Russian President Vladimir Putin about the war.

"I have no immediate plans to contact Mr. Putin," he said. "Mr. Putin is — I need to choose my words very carefully. I'm prepared to speak with Mr. Putin if, in fact, there is an interest in him — he's looking for a way to end the war. He hasn't done that yet."

He added: "The idea that Putin will ever succeed to defeat Ukraine is unimaginable."

Macron said he is confident that the U.S. Congress understands the objectives behind supporting Ukraine, even though Republicans in Congress have pushed back against providing more aid. And, he said, France has been following through with additional aid as well.

A three-day state visit

Macron's visit — the first state visit of the Biden-Harris administration — began earlier this week. On Wednesday, Macron and Vice President Kamala Harris visited the NASA headquarters. Last year, Macron and Harris agreed the two nations would increase cooperation in the space and cybersecurity sectors.

Later on Thursday, Biden and Macron will take part in a state dinner, which includes a performance by Jon Batiste.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ximena Bustillo
Ximena Bustillo is a multi-platform reporter at NPR covering politics out of the White House and Congress on air and in print.