French President Emmanuel Macron was among the first foreign leaders to congratulate Joe Biden on his contested victory over Donald Trump back in November 2020, but he apparently wasn’t around to take the call when his US counterpart tried to return the favor after his re-election victory on Sunday night.
“I tried to talk to Emmanuel Macron last night,” Biden told reporters on Monday. “I spoke to his staff, and he was at the Eiffel Tower having a good time. And I’m going to be talking to him today.”
Other well-wishers had better luck, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was reportedly among the European leaders who got through to Macron on Sunday. Biden and other NATO heads of state were quick to congratulate the French leader on Twitter, as many feared the implications of nationalist candidate Marine Le Pen defeating Macron. As it turned out, the incumbent beat his Eurosceptic rival handily, by a margin of 58.5% to 41.5%.
“Congratulations to Emmanuel Macron on his re-election,” Biden tweeted on Sunday. “France is our oldest ally and a key partner in addressing global challenges. I look forward to our continued close cooperation – including on supporting Ukraine, defending democracy and countering climate change.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin also congratulated Macron, sending a telegram saying, “I sincerely wish you every success in state affairs, as well as good health and wellbeing.”
Biden and Macron finally connected by phone on Monday. The two leaders haven’t seen completely eye-to-eye on responding to Russia’s military offensive against Ukraine. Macron has called for dialogue with Moscow to help bring peace, and he has chosen not to follow his US counterpart and other NATO leaders in branding Putin a “war criminal” and accusing Russian forces of committing “genocide.” In fact, he suggested earlier this month that such rhetoric isn’t conducive to ending the conflict in Ukraine.