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Transcript of the conversation between Secretary Blinken (US Dept. of State) & President Macron (President of France) at a State Luncheon.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you. Thank you. Well, good evening, everyone. (Laughter.) Thank you for your patience. President Macron, Mrs. Macron, it is an honor to welcome you to the State Department.
(Via interpreter) Professionally, but also on a personal level, this is an honor for us to have you here.
It’s also an honor to be joined by my co-host for this lunch, the Vice President of the United States Kamala Harris. (Applause.) And also – and also the Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff. (Applause.)
It is only fitting that for the first state visit of the Biden-Harris administration, the United States is welcoming our oldest ally. This very week, in 1776, a bedraggled, exhausted, and very sea-sick American landed in France after a grueling month at sea.
The Continental Congress had dispatched Benjamin Franklin – who looks out over us, our very first diplomat – to find support for the American Revolution. Over the next year, Franklin and his counterpart forged America’s very first alliance, and that of course proved vital to winning our nation’s independence.
Now, France, Mr. President, made quite an impression on Ben Franklin. Before he went to France, he would extoll the virtues of going to bed early. (Laughter.) Then he went to Paris and, as he said, “Wine is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” (Laughter.)
I think it’s fair to say that Franklin also left his mark on France, where he became something of a celebrity. His trademark fur cap even inspired a new wig style among French women: the “coiffure a la Franklin.”
Now, it’s also fair to say that no American diplomat since – and Henry Kissinger is here today and I think he can attest to that – none of us have lived up to Franklin’s legacy as a style icon. (Laughter.)
But for more than two centuries, the United States and France have built upon the foundation of those early ties – and today, we are unwavering security allies, close economic partners, and most of all, cherished friends.
I am one of the countless beneficiaries of those bonds. Living abroad in France taught me to see the world through another’s eyes – something that I carry with me to this day. France welcomed me, educated me, inspired me – I doubt that I would be here if I had not gone there.
It quickly taught me something that everyone in France knows but, as of yesterday, is now officially recognized by UNESCO: The French baguette is a global cultural treasure. (Laughter.)
PRESIDENT MACRON: Thank you.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Now, as my mother who’s here today can attest, I would probably add the pain au chocolat to that, so maybe we can work on that. (Laughter.)
PRESIDENT MACRON: (Inaudible.)
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you. Those years also gifted me with a lifelong love of soccer – or football, to use the correct word – and also the Paris Saint-Germain team. So while I couldn’t be prouder to cheer on Team USA at the World Cup, I’m also thrilled to see Kylian Mbappé working his magic for Les Bleus. And Mr. President, thank you for keeping him in Paris. (Laughter.)
Today, as both presidents said when they were together at the White House, we find ourselves in a consequential moment – for both of our countries but also for the world. The post-Cold War era is over, and we face a global competition to define what comes next.
This is a challenge that we can best meet as friends, and, for the United States, alongside our very first friend.
Together, the United States and France are defending the international rules-based order that we helped to build after the Second World War. We’re also working together to reform that order so that it better reflects the realities of today.
We’re supporting the people of Ukraine as they defend their nation and resist President Putin’s attempt to redraw the borders of a sovereign, independent nation by force. (Applause.)
We’re working together to strengthen European security and advance a free and open Indo-Pacific.
We’re taking urgent steps to save our planet for future generations, which continues to be driven in large part by the agreement that was reached in Paris.
We’re also making investments in global health to stamp out diseases like malaria and HIV/AIDS, to build greater capacity to prevent and respond to future health emergencies.
Mr. President, you’ve led on the world stage on all of these issues and so many more. But even as we think about the individual issues, it’s also the vision that you bring to global leadership that is so exceptional.
Your commitment to a stronger, better future for all has been a galvanizing force for all of us, for all of our partners. We could not do without it; we’re grateful for it. Thank you. (Applause.)
And Mrs. Macron, I want to salute you as well. You’ve been a beacon for so many families this year, particularly through your work on behalf of Ukrainian children when they so desperately need it. Thank you.
The bottom line is this: It’s hard to find a challenge that we can’t solve if the United States and France work together.
For, in all that we do, our people and our nations are bound together by our core values – of liberty and democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law, the belief that all people should have a chance to reach their full potential.
And that’s exactly what Franklin saw when he went to France. He observed that the French saw – and I quote – “our cause [as] the cause of all [people], and that we are fighting for their liberty in defending our own.”
Those are values that continue to unite us today. That’s the reason that your causes are ours – and ours are yours.
So I’d like to all – ask all of you to join me in a toast to our common history, but also – if we have glasses (laughter) – they’re coming (laughter) – great, thank you – but also, also to our shared future. May the values that have brought us here continue to guide us for generations to come.
Vive les États-Unis. Vive la France.
And now it is my particular pleasure and honor to introduce the Vice President of the United States. Madam Vice President.
(Vice President Harris makes remarks.)
PRESIDENT MACRON: Thank you, thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much.
PARTICIPANT: Sir, your microphone.
PRESIDENT MACRON: (In French.) Thank you for hosting us, (inaudible), Ms. Ryan. First, I do want to apologize because we had a very long meeting with President Biden. (Laughter.) We almost fixed everything. (Laughter.) So you will see a lot of big changes in your life in the coming hours and days. (Laughter.) So this is at least the argument I have to survive vis-à-vis you for the coming minutes and hours. (Laughter.)
No, thank you very much for your patience and sorry to make you wait. Let me first thank you, Tony, for welcoming us here and organizing such a wonderful lunch, and thank you once again, Vice President Kamala, for your friendship, and thanks to both of you for your words.
I have to say: both of you mentioned Lafayette, Benjamin Franklin. I could add to this list Jefferson and so many others who built these incredible links between our two countries. A lot of people ask President Biden: why did you choose President Macron to come for the first state visit? (Laughter.)
Obviously, I’m not the one to answer this question – (laughter) – but I can tell you why the U.S. and France, definitely. I think because a lot of people in this world do believe sometimes we are too proud, too self-confident and so on, but it’s because both of us do believe that we can – and we are in a certain way, in charge of universal values.
And you just quoted these words from Lafayette. He had this in-depth feeling that he will fight for his own country and for liberty together. And when your soldiers came during the First and the Second World War in our country, they had exactly the same feeling.
And we will never forget that a lot of your families lost children on soils they never knew before just because they were fighting for liberty and for universal values. And I think this link in the current environment, in our world, is unique, and this is why I think we are here today and I am so proud to be here indeed with you.
(Inaudible) we have a wonderful delegation. We have our ministers and a lot of civil servants working hard on a daily basis for the bilateral relation. We have business leaders, and we were very proud two days ago to have the first Franco-American business council, and I want to thank all of those who contributed to this event.
We have a lot of members of our parliament on both side, and we had a wonderful discussion yesterday with the caucus – and, I will admit, representatives and senators right after this luncheon. I want to thank our delegation as well for that.
You have a lot of tech players, a lot of investors, a lot of people involved in culture, sports, because we are so much linked by all these sectors, so much linked by the strength of creativity on both sides and our common ability to convey our faith in science and knowledge and our appetite for talent and creativity.
And indeed, we have a lot of common work and common challenge together. We are very much engaged together to help the Ukrainians in this war and to resist to the Russian aggression. And I want to thank your country for the unique commitment and investment alongside the Ukrainian people and in great solidarity with the Europeans.
And we are as well very much engaged for climate change. More solidarity in this world, we will work hard for this new partnership between north and south in the coming months. We are committed for climate and biodiversity, and yesterday we had a wonderful discussion for some initiatives regarding better conservation and protect our rainforests and our oceans. And what we have in common is precisely to work very hard for these values and to make them concrete for our people.
We have huge challenges in our democracies. Because our middle classes do suffer, and the recent years and decade was so, so tough. And we see in our countries almost everywhere a sort of resurgence of hatred speech, racism, divisions.
One way is to accompany this move and to be a demagogue. You decided not to do so, and I want to thank you for that. And we try to resist on our side as well, to precisely deliver more and be efficient and provide concrete solutions to our fellow citizens when we speak about health, when we speak about climate, when we speak about (inaudible) our country, when we speak about defense and security.
And this is how our partnership has to work and deliver. And this is why this morning we had a very useful and fruitful discussion to work on this issue.
I was very happy as well to have very concrete discussion yesterday with you on space, and we are so proud of our astronauts and our common journey (inaudible) in the future. We had very good discussion on nuclear energy, on science and research, on quantic, and so many different fields.
And tomorrow I will go to New Orleans with a wonderful delegation to speak about green energy, climate change, culture, and Francophonie, as I can demonstrate it right now. (Laughter.) But I want to give you some time more, so I want to avoid translation. But we will clearly as well launch a new program for French language, and you’re a perfect example – both of you – of this attachment for the French language.
But I come from a country where everybody knows that gastronomy and a good lunch is part of diplomacy. (Laughter.) And a lot of people pretended that Talleyrand was so successful because he was already with his cooker, and some people claim that in fact Talleyrand’s cooker is the actual diplomat. (Laughter.)
So I don’t want to be longer. I want you to enjoy this lunch, because I think it’s part of diplomacy – (laughter) – and I think it’s the best way to share a very good moment.
But let me tell that in these challenging times, this history and the friendship between the United States of America and France on both sides is part of our soul, our roots, but as well part of our future.
And I will be committed to deliver concrete results for our fellow citizens on both sides of the ocean in this context, thanks to this common history, and committed to this common destiny.
Thank you. (Applause.)
Sources: THX News, Defence Flash News & US Dept. of State.