Biden and Macron vow to strengthen ties and tackle common challenges together

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By Alice Tidey
French President Emmanuel Macron at The Elysee Palace, in Paris, Monday Jan. 11, 2021.
French President Emmanuel Macron at The Elysee Palace, in Paris, Monday Jan. 11, 2021.   -  Copyright  Ludovic Marin, Pool Photo via AP

US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to "strengthen bilateral ties" and join forces to tackle common challenges including COVID-19 and climate change in their first phone exchange.

On Sunday evening the two leaders had their first conversation since Biden's January 20 inauguration.

A readout of the call from the White House said the new American president expressed "the desire to strengthen bilateral ties with our oldest ally" and "his commitment to bolstering the transatlantic relationship", including through NATO and the European Union.

Macron said in a statement that "the two presidents had a friendly and in-depth working conversation during which they noted a great convergence of views on multilateral issues as well as on the subject of crisis and international security."

Relations between Washington and the Old Continent were strained under the Trump administration which berated European allies for not spending enough on defense and pulled out of various international treaties and institutions including the Paris Agreement for climate, the Iran nuclear deal and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Biden reversed some of these decisions within hours in office, recommitting the US to the Paris Agreement and WHO.

The White House said Biden and Macron "agreed on the need for close cooperation" to tackle common challenges including "climate change, COVID-19, and the global economic recovery" while the Elysée presidential palace also emphasised that they expressed "their willingness to act together for peace and stability in the Middle East, in particular on the Iranian nuclear issue and the situation in Lebanon."

They also agreed to work together on "shared foreign policy priorities" including China and Russia, the White House said.

Prior to his call with Macron, Biden had spoken to Candian Premier Justin Trudeau, Mexican President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.