French President Macron says US is ‘definitely’ back, welcomes Biden to ‘the club’

The heat between President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron continued to be fully visible on the second day of the G-7 summit in Cornwall, England on Saturday – leaders sat down for a bilateral meeting in the lead – tête-à-tête on the beach and Macron agreeing that America is “definitely” back.

“I think what you’re showing is that leadership is a partnership,” Macron said, adding that he appreciated Biden’s commitment.

The president agreed with Macron, saying: “We, the United States, as I said before, are back. The United States is back.”

Later, ABC News’ Karen Travers followed up with Biden by asking, “Have you convinced your allies that America is back?”

Biden threw the question at Macron, who immediately replied, “Yes, definitely.”

In stark contrast to former President Donald Trump threatening to leave NATO and criticizing European countries on defense spending in 2018, Biden solidified the US presence in that alliance, saying he supported and was “very convinced of NATO’s cohesion.”

“The European Union is an incredibly strong and dynamic entity which has a lot to do with Western Europe’s ability to not only manage its economic problems, but also to provide the backbone and support for NATO,” did he declare.

And in a not-so-subtle blow to Trump, Macron said “it’s great that the US president is part of the club and is very willing to cooperate,” after years of Trump alienating some of the more allies. close to America.

In 2019, Trump and Macron were on the brink of a trade dispute and exchanged words about NATO.

But on Saturday, Macron thanked Biden for an informal meeting the day before – of which Macron tweeted a video – and said the United States and France must cooperate to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

“As we say in the United States, we’re on the same page,” Biden said of their conversations.

The two discussed the pandemic, the donation of vaccines to the international tax system, climate change, the Sahel, NATO, China and Russia, according to the White House reading.

Biden also had a one-on-one with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Saturday. The couple discussed efforts to beat the pandemic and pledged to donate vaccines, according to a White House reading.

Biden thanked Italy for continuing to support peace and security in Afghanistan, even as the United States prepares to withdraw all of its forces by September 11, and expects Italy hosts the G-20 summit in October. He pledged to work with Italy on global challenges “including China, Russia and Libya”.

Biden also had talks with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

As Friday’s G-7 events were marked by warm hugs and nudges, a senior administration official described some tension between two groups of leaders during the first G-7 session on Saturday. morning, with Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking harshly with China, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi advocated a more moderate approach during the 90-minute session.

Tensions are also sure to be high at the upcoming first Biden summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva on Wednesday.

The two will meet in two sessions and Biden will not hold a joint press conference with Putin afterwards, according to the White House.

“We expect this meeting to be frank and direct and a solo press conference is the appropriate format to clearly communicate with the free press the topics that were raised at the meeting – both in terms of areas on which we can agree to and in areas where we have significant concerns, “a White House official said on Saturday.

In one interview With NBC News on Friday, Putin said relations between the United States and Russia were at their lowest in decades and described Biden as “radically different” from his predecessor.

“I believe former US President Mr. Trump is an extraordinary, talented individual, otherwise he would not have become US President,” he said. “Biden is a career man. He’s spent most of his adult life in politics… He’s a different type of person, and I really hope there are pros, cons, but there won’t be. no impetus. movements based on behalf of the incumbent US president. “

Biden was asked on Friday what his message to Putin would be, but he would only say, “I’ll tell you after I deliver it.”

In the past, the president has not mince words in expressing his feelings for Putin, telling ABC News in March that he thinks he is a “killer” and that he personally told him in 2011, “I don’t think you have a soul.”

Some of the summit’s biggest issues are the recent cyberattacks on American companies that have affected millions of Americans, as well as the poisoning and jail of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki this week doubled down on Biden using the summit as an opportunity to confront Putin, saying “he’s going to be blunt” and “outspoken,” but downplayed expectations for results significant.

“We don’t expect a huge result from this,” she told ABC News’s “Good Morning America”.

Sarah Kolinovsky of ABC News contributed to this report.

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