Washington: US President Joe Biden and President Emmanuel Macron signaled efforts Thursday to ease tensions in the wake of the French leader’s recent remarks on Taiwan and the European security relationship with Washington.
The White House and Elysee said in separate statements after the phone call that the leaders discussed Macron’s state visit in the first week of April to Beijing, where he spent several hours with President Xi Jinping.
As he ended the trip, Macron caused a stir by telling reporters that European countries should not be drawn into a fight between China and the United States over democratic, Western-backed Taiwan.
Macron said Europe should avoid “crises that aren’t ours.” He also repeated previous comments calling for the EU’s “strategic autonomy” from the United States, which has been instrumental in defending Europe since helping to defeat Nazi Germany in World War II.
The White House statement emphasized their shared positions.
They “discussed President Macron’s recent travel to the People’s Republic of China and their ongoing efforts to advance prosperity, security, shared values, and the rules-based international order in the Indo-Pacific region,” the statement said. “They reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
Biden and Macron also discussed the Russian invasion of pro-Western Ukraine and “reiterated their steadfast support for Ukraine in the face of Russia’s brutal aggression,” the statement said.
In Paris, Macron’s office characterized the call as Biden being briefed on “the results obtained” during the China trip.
Referring to Macron’s push for China to play a role in forging a peace deal to end the war in Ukraine, the statement said “China had a role to play in contributing, in the medium term, in ending the conflict in accordance with the principles and aims of the United Nations charter.”
“The two heads of state agreed on the importance of continuing to engage Chinese authorities on this basis,” the statement said.
Washington looks with some skepticism on Macron’s initiative, given communist China’s strong alliance with Russia.
On the transatlantic security relationship, the French statement underlined “the importance of European countries continuing to re-arm themselves in order to take on their responsibilities in sharing the burden of transatlantic security.”
It echoed US language on Taiwan, saying “the two presidents share the same desire to reinforce cooperation underway and to support international law, including the freedom of navigation, in the whole of the Indo-Pacific region.”
Biden held a separate call Thursday with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who accompanied Macron to Beijing.
A White House statement said they too “reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
“The two leaders discussed President von der Leyen’s recent trip to Beijing and their shared commitment to upholding the rules-based international order, human rights, and fair trade practices,” the statement said.
Biden likewise discussed the Western effort to halt Russia’s onslaught on Ukraine, as well as the transition to clean energy economies, the statement said.