Biden welcomes Macron to a state dinner. Here’s what to expect.

WASHINGTON — More than a year after a transatlantic conflict threatened to sour Franco-US relations, President Emmanuel Macron and his wife will be guests of honor Thursday at the White House for the first state dinner since President Biden took office.

In the days leading up to the black-tie dinner, the first lady’s office, which does most of the planning, made every effort to show relations were strong as the White House marks a return of diplomatic pomp that has largely been seen was keep on during the pandemic.

“This dinner was inspired by the shared colors of our flags,” said First Lady Jill Biden as she unveiled the menu and floral decorations for the dinner. “And our shared values: freedom and democracy, equality and camaraderie. These form the foundation upon which our enduring friendship was built.”

The awards ranged from the design of the menu to the wine glasses made in France. Leaders will toast American-made wine and an image of the Statue of Liberty, a gift from France, will form the backdrop to the toasts.

The White House will place red roses and blue delphiniums alongside white irises, France’s official flower, on each table during dinner to symbolize the nations’ shared colors.

The Macrons are also treated to an American cheese course, including Oregon’s Rogue River Blue, the 2019-20 World Cheese Awards winner. The dinner will include more than 300 guests, an administration official said.

Grammy Award-winning composer Jon Batiste will perform with the US Marine Band. dr Biden noted Wednesday that Mr. Batiste grew up in New Orleans “which was shaped by both French and American cultures.”

“Our hope is that the end result will be a night that balances the beauty of our friendship with the seriousness of our goal,” Ms. Biden said. “And we hope that French citizens everywhere feel the warmth of our welcome.”

Both countries have been scrambling to reassure the world of the strength of their alliance in the 14 months since Mr Biden struck a deal to help Australia deploy nuclear submarines, overturning an earlier French contract to supply conventional submarines. Doomed boats and prompted Mr Macron to recall his ambassador.

Mr Biden later said the government was “clumsy” in handling the deal and has met with Mr Macron on numerous occasions since. On the eve of the official state dinner, the two presidents and their wives dined together at Fiola Mare, a waterfront Italian restaurant in Washington.

But there were challenges ahead.

The state dinner provides an opportunity for diplomatic engagement with an ally central to the government’s foreign policy strategy amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, global inflation and a possible energy crisis in Europe.

According to a senior Biden administration official, Mr. Biden and Mr. Macron are likely to discuss the importance of a united front against Russia, as well as concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.

France has also warned the United States that Mr Biden’s recently passed climate and energy law, which includes tax credits to entice consumers to buy American-made electric vehicles, would threaten a European economy struggling with inflation. Mr. Macron, who also attended a state dinner during the Trump administration, is also likely to emphasize the need to strengthen Europe’s defense systems so that it does not depend on the United States in times of conflict.

On Wednesday, Mr. Macron met with Vice President Kamala Harris at NASA Headquarters to discuss space strategy between the two allies.

“We are at a turning point in the transatlantic relationship in world history, where many things have happened in the last four years, from Macron’s meeting with Trump to Macron’s meeting with Biden,” said Célia Belin, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution with a focus on United States policy towards Europe and French policy. “Americans, faced with Russia, know that unity and solidarity have made the West so powerful.”

She said the state dinner could also mark one of the final stages of reconciliation since the alliance hit rock bottom following the announcement of the submarine deal.

Mr. Macron and his wife Brigitte are greeted with an official arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House before the two world leaders hold a bilateral meeting. Mr. Biden and Mr. Macron will then hold a joint press conference.

The leaders then return to the South Lawn for dinner under a tent set up to protect guests from the winter weather. While the pumpkins were being picked for the meal in the White House garden, the plates were being rented. (Official White House china is not allowed to leave the building lest it be damaged.)

The menu, designed by White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford and pastry chef Susie Morrison, includes butter-poached Maine lobster, followed by shallot jam with beef and triple-cooked buttered potatoes. Biden welcomes Macron to a state dinner. Here’s what to expect.

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