Biden, Macron talk Middle East and Ukraine during ceremonial state visit

French President Emmanuel Macron, left, welcomes U.S. President Joe Biden for a state dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France  June 8. Reuters-Yonhap

Fresh from commemorating the 80th anniversary of D-Day, French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed U.S. President Joe Biden in Paris on Saturday for a state visit that included talks about the Middle East, Ukraine and trade.

The two countries will work harder to prevent a regional escalation from Israel’s war with militant group Hamas in Gaza and focus on calming tensions between Israel and Hezbollah, Macron told reporters at the Elysee presidential palace, with Biden at his side.

“We are redoubling efforts together to avoid a regional explosion, particularly in Lebanon,” Macron said. Hezbollah is an Iran-backed political movement and militia in Lebanon.

Both men welcomed the rescue by Israeli forces of four hostages held by Hamas since October. “We won’t stop working until all the hostages come home and a ceasefire is reached,” Biden said.

Biden has been a staunch supporter of Israel, which is pursuing Hamas after it attacked the country in October. But tens of thousands of Palestinian deaths have soured Biden’s left-leaning political base on Israel, hurting him as he runs against Republican Donald Trump for re-election in November.

Biden and Macron, who spent the last few days celebrating D-Day veterans and extolling democratic values, did not take questions from reporters.

The Saturday visit began with a ceremony at the iconic Arc de Triomphe, where the leaders paid their respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier while a massive French flag hanging from the arch fluttered in the breeze above their heads.

Accompanied by their wives, Biden and Macron greeted army veterans. Then, escorted by French guards on horseback, they drove down the capital’s renowned Avenue des Champs-Elysees, en route to the Elysee.

The day concluded with a dinner at the French presidential palace, where celebrities including Pharrell Williams and John McEnroe joined 안전 political and business leaders. Macron also welcomed 100-year-old World War Two veteran Harold Terrens and his 96-year-old bride, Jeanne Swerlin, as guests. The couple married earlier on Saturday.

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