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What to Expect From Macron’s State Visit

The high-profile trip marks the first state visit of U.S. President Joe Biden’s presidency.

By , a reporter at Foreign Policy.
French President Emmanuel Macron walks on the deck of a helicopter.
French President Emmanuel Macron walks on the deck of a helicopter.
French President Emmanuel Macron walks on the deck of an amphibious helicopter carrier docked at a French Navy base in Toulon, France, on Nov. 9. ERIC GAILLARD/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at French President Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to the United States, Washington’s pledge to repair Ukraine’s power grid, Germany and Qatar’s new LNG deal, and the death of Jiang Zemin

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What to Expect From Macrons State Visit

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at French President Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to the United States, Washington’s pledge to repair Ukraine’s power grid, Germany and Qatar’s new LNG deal, and the death of Jiang Zemin. 

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


What to Expect From Macrons State Visit

French President Emmanuel Macron is in Washington this week for a high-profile diplomatic trip—and the first state visit of the Biden administration—as the two leaders seek to reinforce ties amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.

It’s a far cry from where their relationship stood around this time last year, when the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia’s secretive AUKUS partnership tanked U.S.-French relations. With AUKUS, Australia abandoned a $66 billion French submarine contract, infuriating France and prompting it to recall its ambassadors to Washington and Canberra in September 2021. 

Since then, shared interests and joint efforts sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have helped the two leaders find more common ground. In a press briefing on Monday, U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby stressed the importance of the two countries’ “long, shared history as allies.”

“If you look at what’s going on in Ukraine, look at what’s going on in the Indo-Pacific and the tensions with China, France is really at the center of all those things,” Kirby said. “President Macron has been a dynamic leader inside the G-7, particularly there in Europe.”

U.S. President Joe Biden “felt that this was exactly the right and the most appropriate country to start with for state visits,” he added. 

Their meeting agenda is set to be dominated by the war in Ukraine as well as Beijing’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region and other defensive issues. Macron is also expected to steer the conversation toward how the European economy has been upended by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, particularly over energy, the Financial Times reported

Macron’s visit is set to kick off today with a trip to NASA headquarters with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris. Events will continue into Thursday, when the White House will hold an arrival ceremony to mark Macron’s visit. Later in the day, Macron and Biden will meet for bilateral talks and ultimately attend a state dinner. 

On Friday, Macron will conclude his trip by visiting New Orleans, where he is expected to unveil a new French language educational fund and meet with Gov. John Bel Edwards.


What We’re Following Today

Jiang Zemin’s death. Former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin died of leukemia and multiple organ failure on Wednesday morning. He was 96.

Jiang became general-secretary of the Chinese Communist Party in the wake of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre and was named president in 1993—a role he held until 2003.

Many foreign leaders viewed Jiang as the garrulous, disarming exception to the mold of stiff, unsmiling Chinese leaders, the New York Times writes. He was the Communist who quoted [former U.S. President Abraham] Lincoln, proclaimed his love for Hollywood films and burst into songs like Love Me Tender.’” He is also remembered for continuing the market reforms initiated under former leader Deng Xiaoping and shepherding China through a decade of rapid economic growth.

Repairing Ukraine’s energy grid. As Ukraine faces sweeping power blackouts, the United States has vowed to send Kyiv $53 million to restore critical energy infrastructure that has been knocked out by Russian missile strikes. On Tuesday, NATO also emphasized its commitment to admitting Ukraine as a member. 

“This equipment will be rapidly delivered to Ukraine on an emergency basis to help Ukrainians persevere through the winter,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement. “This supply package will include distribution transformers, circuit breakers, surge arresters, disconnectors, vehicles and other key equipment.”

German-Qatari LNG deal. Germany and Qatar have signed a 15-year-long deal for liquefied natural gas (LNG), following Berlin’s monthslong scramble to diversify its supply and bolster its energy security after Russia slashed its flows. Starting in 2026, Doha will supply Berlin with 2 million tons of LNG every year.

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck hailed the duration of the deal on Tuesday, saying, “15 years is great. … I wouldn’t have had anything against 20 [years] or longer contracts.”


Keep an Eye On 

Belarus’s suspicious death. Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei “died suddenly on Saturday, according to the country’s foreign ministry. He was 64. Officials and state media did not offer more details, fueling rumors of more sinister causes of death. During his decade as foreign minister, Makei sought to strengthen relations between Belarus and the West.

China’s expanding nuclear arsenal. China is currently on track to increase its nuclear warhead stockpile from 400 weapons to 1,500 weapons by 2035, a new U.S. Defense Department report said. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the United States has deployed around 1,740 nuclear warheads, with a total arsenal of 3,700, Reuters reported

“The People’s Liberation Army plans to basically complete modernisation of its national defence and armed forces by 2035,” the report said. “If China continues the pace of its nuclear expansion, it will probably field a stockpile of about 1,500 warheads by its 2035 timeline.”


Tuesday’s Most Read

Will China’s Protests Survive? by James Palmer

Xi’s Obsession With Control Produced China’s Protests by Howard W. French

Russian Exiles Struggle to Form a United Opposition to Putin by Lucian Kim 


Odds and Ends 

Four Buddhist monks in Thailand tested positive for methamphetamine and have entered rehabilitation at a health facility, Thai officials said, leaving their temple temporarily monk-less. Boonlert Thintapthai, a local official, told AFP that other monks will stand in for them so worshippers can continue to practice.

Christina Lu is a reporter at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @christinafei

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