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Biden and Macron Share Affection and Worldview at G-7 Summit

Biden and Macron Share Affection and Worldview at G-7 Summit



and French President

Emmanuel Macron

threw their arms around each other as they walked on the beach. Later the two men shared a tête-à-tête as aides looked on. At one point Mr. Biden asked Mr. Macron to answer a reporter’s question for him.

At the summit of the Group of Seven leaders in Cornwall this weekend, the two presidents embraced each other, sometimes literally, as allies on a host of issues—from multilateralism to fighting climate change—after years of volatility between Mr. Macron and former President

Donald Trump.

“The sun is shining, we’re on this beach, I’m well,” Mr. Biden said sitting next to Mr. Macron. “And I’m with the president of France—that makes me even feel better.”

“I think it’s great to have a U.S. president part of the club, and very willing to cooperate,” Mr. Macron said.

After a photo with the other world leaders next to the water on Friday, the two men, who were meeting for the first time, spoke for several minutes, smiling and patting backs. At one point, European Commission President

Ursula von der Leyen

joined the conversation, but the two men remained fixated on each other.

The affection between Messrs. Biden and Macron reflects a shared worldview—one that puts a premium on the value of multinational institutions such as the World Trade Organization and the European Union. That makes Mr. Macron perhaps the most important partner for Mr. Biden in Europe, as German Chancellor

Angela Merkel,

another consummate internationalist, is set to leave office later this year.

“I for one think the European Union is an incredibly strong and vibrant entity,” Mr. Biden said on Friday sitting next to Mr. Macron, “that has a lot to do with the ability of Western Europe to not only handle its economic issues but also provide the backbone and support for NATO.”

Messrs. Biden and Macron had an informal discussion on Friday, followed by a formal bilateral meeting on Saturday.

The body language of Mr. Macron’s meeting with Mr. Biden stood in contrast to his first with Mr. Trump, which featured one of the more notable handshakes in diplomatic history: a white-knuckle grasp during which Mr. Macron continued squeezing after Mr. Trump appeared to try to withdraw his hand.

World leaders gathered in Cornwall, England, for the first day of the G-7 summit on Friday. As they posed for a socially distanced photo on the beach, protesters marched nearby to demand they focus on tackling climate change. Photo: Leon Neal/Press Pool

Messrs. Trump and Macron later appeared to develop a bond when the French leader invited Mr. Trump to Paris in 2017 for the Bastille Day military parade and dinner inside the Eiffel Tower. A year later Mr. Macron visited the White House, where he held hands with Mr. Trump and exchanged cheek kisses.

As a symbol of Franco-American friendship, the leaders planted an oak sapling donated by France on the White House lawn. The sapling was later placed in quarantine because of U.S. sanitary rules, the French media reported in 2019. It was never replanted and died.

In the years that followed, Mr. Trump repeatedly criticized the European Union, which Mr. Macron strongly supports; pulled the U.S. from the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear agreement, two of Mr. Macron’s top foreign policy priorities; and roiled trans-Atlantic trade by placing tariffs on steel from the EU.

The low point in the relationship came during the 100th anniversary of the World War I armistice. Just weeks after Mr. Trump called himself a nationalist during a campaign rally, he attended a commemoration ceremony at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe. With Mr. Trump looking on, the French leader denounced nationalism as countries acting in their self-interest and a betrayal of patriotism.

Mr. Trump returned to Washington, unleashing a series of Twitter posts critical of Mr. Macron.

Mr. Biden quickly brought the U.S. back into the Paris climate accord and last week lifted sanctions on some Iranian officials, in a bid to lower tensions with Tehran. The U.S. and the EU have agreed to detente on further tariffs as negotiations continue.

Mr. Biden, when asked on Friday if he had successfully convinced other G-7 leaders that the U.S. is committed to multilateralism, deferred to Mr. Macron. “Ask him,” he said.

“Definitely,” Mr. Macron replied.

Mr. Macron is cozying up with the American leader as he prepares to face voters in next year’s presidential election. Mr. Biden is highly popular in France at a time when Mr. Macron faces voters in a bid for re-election in less than a year. A Pew poll released last week found that 74% of French people were confident in Mr. Biden’s leadership. The figure for Mr. Trump was 11% when Pew conducted the poll in 2020.

During the summit, Mr. Macron posted a message on Twitter with video of him speaking closely to Mr. Biden. “Now that we are together, united, determined to make a difference, it’s time to deliver,” Mr. Macron wrote.

The G-7 Summit

More coverage of President Biden’s trip, selected by WSJ editors.

Write to Matthew Dalton at [email protected] and Andrew Restuccia at [email protected]

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