Biden, Macron vow to strengthen US-France ties in first phone call

US President Joe Biden and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron sought to mend and bolster their strained bilateral ties as the two leaders spoke over the phone, pledging to work together on shared foreign policy priorities, including China, and fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

Biden called Macron on Sunday and expressed his desire to strengthen bilateral ties. He also stressed his commitment to bolstering the transatlantic relationship, including through NATO and the United States’ partnership with the European Union, the White House said.

“The leaders agreed on the need for close coordination, including through multilateral organisations, in tackling common challenges such as climate change, COVID-19 and the global economic recovery, it said in a statement.

Biden and Macron also agreed to work together on shared foreign policy priorities, including China, the Middle East, Russia, and West Africa’s Sahel region, it said.

This was Biden’s fourth phone call with a foreign leader after being sworn in as the US President on January 20.

Biden’s first two phone calls have been, as per tradition, with the leaders of its two neighbours – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada and President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico. He spoke with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday.

After taking over the reins of the country, the Biden administration has started reaching out to its traditional allies.

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Biden’s phone calls to European leaders were seen to be aimed at mending the strained transatlantic ties after four years of “America First” under his predecessor Donald Trump.

Biden has reaffirmed his commitment to NATO which had been a bone of contention between Trump and European leaders.

Trump repeatedly questioned the alliance and accused other countries of not paying their fair share.

Macron and Trump were also at odds over several issues, such as the war in Syria and US withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, which Biden moved to reverse on his first day in office.

France is pushing for globally consistent taxes on US tech companies such as Google and Amazon, which led to an ongoing trade dispute with Washington under Trump.

The US and the European Union have also imposed tit-for-tat tariffs over subsidies to US plane maker Boeing and its France-based rival, Airbus.

The US defense secretary has so far spoken over the phone with the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and his counterparts from Britain, Japan and South Korea.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has spoken with his counterparts from France, Germany, Britain, Japan, Afghanistan, South Korea and Israel.

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