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Macron visits NASA with Kamala Harris as US tour starts

November 30, 2022

French President Emmanuel Macron has arrived in the US for his first state visit hosted by President Joe Biden. Presenting a united front on Ukraine is at the top of the agenda.

French President Emmanuel Macron in Washington at NASA HQ with US Vice President Kamala Harris
French President Emmanuel Macron in Washington at NASA HQ with US Vice President Kamala HarrisImage: Alex Brandon/AP/picture alliance

French President Emmanuel Macron met Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday for a visit to NASA headquarters as he kicked off his state visit to the United States.

Macron's visit with Harris to NASA offered the two countries a chance to show off their cooperation on space technology. 

During her meeting with the French leader, Harris said France was a "vital ally" of the United States while both underlined the importance of their space cooperation. 

In June, France signed the Artemis Accords which aims to support NASA's goal of returning humans to the moon by 2024. In the same month, the US joined a French initiative to develop tools for adapting to climate change called the Space for Climate Observatory. 

Iran nuclear program and China on agenda for Biden meeting

Macron and his wife are also due to meet President Joe Biden and the US president's wife for a private dinner later in the day. On Thursday, Macron will attend an official welcoming ceremony hosted by Biden at the White House.

The same day, the leaders are slated to talk about  Iran's nuclear program, China's increasing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific and growing security concerns in Africa's Sahel region. 

Following the talks, Macron and his wife will attend a state dinner with musician Jon Batiste set to perform.


NASA heads back to the moon with Artemis 1

France pushing for peace talks in Ukraine

Both the US and France are closely supporting Kyiv forces fighting Russia in Ukraine. But differences remain — Macron has repeatedly called on Ukraine to resume peace talks with Russia. However, Biden has maintained that this decision is solely in the hands of the Ukrainian leadership. 

An advisor to Macron told the AFP news agency that France and the US are "not allies on the same page" and promised "challenging" talks with Biden. 

Separately, French government spokesperson Oliver Veran on Tuesday said that there is a need for "re-synchronizing" of the agendas.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that Washington is "in the mode of listening and making sure we understand concerns by our European partners," while also praising Macron for his "experience and wisdom."

Tensions have also been simmering between the US and its European allies after Biden enacted the Inflation Reduction Act — which authorizes subsidies for climate and energy initiatives. The French president called the legislation "unfriendly" and that it could upend the "level playing field" in international trade. 

jsi, ns/dj (AP, AFP)