WASHINGTON, Nov 30 (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron addressed U.S. lawmakers from both political parties on Wednesday and rejected new U.S. subsidies that have irked European leaders, according to a participant in a closed-door meeting.
Macron arrived in Washington on Tuesday for his second state visit to the United States since taking office in 2017, before French officials said he would confront President Joe Biden over the subsidies contained in the Deflation Act (IRA).
Biden and Macron, accompanied by their wives Gilles and Brigitte, took the early opportunity to gather before their official talks on Thursday. They traveled in the US President’s motorcade a short distance from the White House to the Georgetown Historic District and dined at Fiola Mare, an Italian restaurant.
At a meeting with US lawmakers at the Library of Congress, Macron said the Deflation Act was “super aggressive” towards European companies, one attendee told Reuters. The participant requested anonymity to discuss a private part of the meeting.
Macron’s office declined to confirm the comment, which was first reported by Agence France-Presse.
European leaders have complained about a legislative package signed by Biden in August that offers massive subsidies for US-made products, which they say unfairly disadvantages non-US companies and would be a major blow to their economies as Europe deals with the fallout from Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine.
White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre said the legislation “presents significant opportunities for European businesses as well as benefits for EU energy security” when asked about Europe’s concerns.
The IRA has provisions that will contribute to the growth of the clean energy sector globally, she added.
In opening remarks at the Library of Congress with reporters in attendance, Macron said France and the United States should join forces to reform the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank so that their funds can be directed to countries affected by climate change .
After Republicans won the House of Representatives in midterm elections this month, Macron’s efforts to reach out to both parties were an acknowledgment that he must look beyond Biden, a Democrat, to advance cooperation with Washington, a French official said.
Macron is the first foreign leader to be given a state dinner at the Biden White House, a sign of his importance to Washington despite some differences with the Biden administration. Thursday’s formal dinner will feature music by John Baptiste, Napa Valley chardonnay and cheddar cheese from a family creamery in Sheboygan, Wis., according to details provided by first lady Jill Biden’s office.
“STATE EXHIBITORS” IN SPACE
Earlier, Macron visited NASA headquarters with Vice President Kamala Harris and said US-French cooperation was important to countering the risk of conflict in space. The two announced a new US-French cooperation in space during a meeting in Paris a year ago.
Macron said space represented a “new site of conflict” and that it was important for France and the United States to work together to set rules and norms because they shared a commitment to science as well as democratic values.
“We have crazy players in space as well, we have rogue states out there and we have new hybrid attacks,” Macron said, speaking in English.
France joined the United States and several other nations in ruling out destructive tests of direct-launch anti-satellite missiles after Russia hit one of its own satellites in orbit last year, creating debris and drawing scorn from the United States and its allies.
The United States, which last demonstrated such a missile in 2008, first announced its test ban in April.
Macron’s visit came as NATO ministers met in Bucharest and pledged more aid to Ukraine to help counter Russian attacks on energy infrastructure as winter bites.
The alliance, founded by the United States and France, is also discussing how to deal with challenges posed by China’s military buildup and its cooperation with Russia, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said. Macron has said in the past that China should not be a focus for NATO.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters at a briefing that China would be high on the agenda during Macron’s visit “because of the global influence that China is trying to project and demonstrate and because of the security challenges , which China continues to place, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region.”
Reporting by Michelle Rose; Additional reporting by Joey Roulette and Michael Martina; Written by Simon Lewis; Editing by Will Dunham and Sandra Mahler
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