Biden and Macron talk Iran, Lebanon, Covid and climate in first call

In a one-hour phone call, the US president praised France as "America's oldest ally"

FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech to the French Bakery and Pastry Federation members next to the traditional epiphany cake, at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, France January 13, 2021. Francois Mori/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
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French President Emmanuel Macron and new US President Joe Biden are in agreement on a number of issues from Covid-19 to climate change and intend to work together in the Middle East, the Elysee Palace has said.

Speaking in the first phone call since Mr Biden took office last week, the pair discussed the situation in Lebanon and the Iran nuclear deal that previous president Donald Trump walked out of in 2018.

The White House said Mr Biden and Mr Macron also discussed cooperation on China, the Middle East, Russia and the Sahel.


Joe Biden in the Middle East - in pictures

Over the course of the hour-long call in English, the pair expressed “willingness to act together for peace and stability in the near and Middle East, particularly on the Iranian nuclear issue and the situation in Lebanon,” Elysee Palace said on Sunday.

Mr Macron had already lauded Mr Biden's decision to return to the Paris climate accord and the pair said they “hoped that the US return to the Paris Agreement would open up a new stage of action so that the international community could concretely live up to its commitments.”

Former US President Donald Trump formally pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord in November last year, claiming it "was designed to kill the American economy" rather than save the environment.

Describing France as America's "oldest ally," a White House statement added that Mr Biden had pledged close coordination with Paris on climate change, Covid-19 and the global economy.

It said Mr Biden "stressed his commitment to bolstering the transatlantic relationship, including through Nato and the United States' partnership with the European Union."

The call was the US leader's latest effort to mend relations with Europe after they were badly strained under Mr Trump.

Mr Macron had initially attempted to forge a close relationship with Mr Trump, but the two later were frequently at odds over Syria, US tariffs and the US president’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord -- which Mr Biden moved to re-enter on his first day in office.

Mr Biden spoke on Saturday with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and the two vowed to deepen cooperation and work together to tackle climate change, the prime minister's office said.

That call was Mr Biden's first to a European leader, according to British newspapers.

His first call to any foreign leader went to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada on Friday, followed by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico.

First steps Joe Biden may take on foreign policy

First steps Joe Biden may take on foreign policy

Mr Biden has vowed to return to a more traditional US diplomacy built around close ties to the two North American partners, Western Europe and Asian allies such as Japan and South Korea.

Europeans have responded with expressions of relief, tempered by some doubts that the US is as reliable a friend as it was in the past.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Council, said after Mr Biden's inauguration on Wednesday that the quadrennial ceremony had provided "resounding proof that, once again, after four long years, Europe has a friend in the White House."