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French President Emmanuel Macron is in the United States for a state visit. Macron’s American sojourn comes at a difficult time for the transatlantic relationship, with tensions rife over economic nationalism and the war in Ukraine.

1. Macron’s visit is the first state visit during the Biden administration. This honour reflects that Washington’s relationship with France, which is a key European ally, has recovered since the AUKUS debacle in 2021. This is President Macron’s second state visit to America, which is a rare honour for a French President.

2. In 2021, Australia junked a multi-billion-dollar submarine deal with France to work with America and Britain instead. Macron called this action “unacceptable between allies and partners" and took the extraordinary step of recalling its Ambassador in Washington.

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3. But now the war in Ukraine has forced both partners to bury the hatchet. Russia’s invasion has also breathed new life into NATO, which President Macron had diagnosed with “brain death" only a few years ago.

4. While the relationship has improved, tensions remain. America has launched a slew of economic subsidy programs, such as the CHIPS Act, which have attracted much investment away from Europe. This has troubled major European leaders, who are struggling with the possibility of recession given still-high energy prices on the Continent.

5. Differences over Ukraine policy are also evident. Questions are now being asked about how far Ukraine should continue its struggle against Russia and whether the re-conquest of Crimea, which Moscow conquered in 2014, should be attempted. Macron has stated in the past that the war should not end in humiliation for Russia.

6. Macron has maintained a regular dialogue with President Vladimir Putin of Russia throughout the war. He recently called for involving China as a mediator in bringing an end to the conflict in Ukraine. He has also indicated that he would visit China in 2023.

7. The Biden administration would also like to see a more militarily proactive Europe. America will be increasingly pre-occupied with defence commitments in the Indo-Pacific. However, military heavyweights like Macron’s France and Germany have been found wanting and their armed forces have significant vulnerabilities. This runs the risk of weighing down America’s focus on China.

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