US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron walk next to vehicles as they meet for dinner at Fiola Mare restaurant in the Georgetown neighbourhood of Washington, US, on Wednesday. Reuters
Biden is set to honor Macron with the first state dinner of his presidency on Thursday evening. First, the two leaders will sit down in the Oval Office for morning talks that officials from both sides said were expected to largely center on the leaders’ efforts to stay united in their response to Russia’s war in Ukraine and to coordinate their approach to an increasingly assertive China.
But ahead of Thursday’s meeting, Macron made clear that he and other European leaders remain deeply concerned about the incentives in a sweeping new climate-related law that favor American-made climate technology, including electric vehicles.
Macron on Wednesday criticized the legislation, known as the Inflation Reduction Act, during a luncheon with US lawmakers and again during a speech at the French embassy. The French president said that while the Biden administration’s efforts to curb climate change should be applauded, the subsidies would be an enormous setback for European companies.
Emmanuel Macron greets guests at the French Embassy in Washington, DC, on Wednesday. AFP
"The choices that have been made... are choices that will fragment the West," Macron said at the French embassy. He added that the legislation "creates such differences between the United States of America and Europe that all those who work in many companies (in the US), they will just think, ‘We don’t make investments any more on the other side of the Atlantic.’”
Separately, at the luncheon with members of Congress from both parties, along with business leaders and diplomats, Macron said that major industrial nations need to do more to address climate change and promote biodiversity.
He criticized a deal reached at a recent climate summit in Egypt in which the United States and other wealthy nations agreed to help pay for the damage that an overheating world is inflicting on poor countries. The deal includes few details on how it will be paid for, and Macron said a more comprehensive approach is needed — “not just a new fund we decided which will not be funded and even if it is funded, it will not be rightly allocated.”
Speaking after his prepared remarks and without cameras present, Macron took aim at the Inflation Reduction Act, calling the subsidies harmful to French companies and others in Europe, according to a person in the closed-door meeting. The person requested anonymity to discuss the private comments from Macron.
Australia last week scrapped a deal with France's Naval Group to build a fleet of conventional submarines and will instead build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines with US and British technology after striking a trilateral security partnership with those two countries.
Leaders meeting over dinner in Slovenia on Tuesday split into classic divisions of eastern states fearful of Russia and wanting to strengthen Europe within NATO and those led by Germany, Italy, Spain and France that want a more robust EU capability.
Underlining the breadth of strife in a transatlantic bloc hailed by its backers as the most successful military alliance in history, Trump demanded that Europe pay more for defence and also make concessions to US interests on trade.
Russian President Vladimir Putin also offered condolences in telegrams to the leaders of Syria and Turkey and expressed readiness to help. The offer was made despite Russia's international isolation led by Western nations over Moscow's war on Ukraine.
On both sides of the border, residents jolted out of sleep by the pre-dawn quake rushed outside on a cold, rainy and snowy winter night, as buildings were flattened and strong aftershocks continued.
It said the targets of the raid were suspected of an attempted attack on a restaurant in the Israeli settlement of Vered Yeriho on Jan. 28. The Palestinian health ministry said three people had been wounded, one critically but it gave no details on any dead.