President Joe Biden holds a bilateral meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in the Oval Office during an official state visit at the White House in Washington on December 1, 2022. Pool Photo by Doug Mills/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 1 (UPI) -- French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday he would never force Ukraine to negotiate with Moscow to end Russia's invasion, while U.S. President Joe Biden said he would be willing to talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin if he wanted to end the war.
Biden and Macron voiced their support for Ukraine at a joint press conference as part of Macron's official state visit to Washington -- the first of the Biden administration. The two leaders held a meeting and took questions afterward.
Russia has attacked Ukraine since February with no end in sight, with Kyiv slowly starting to win back territory Russia had captured as winter starts to set in.
When asked if there was a need to push Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his country to compromise, Macron pushed back.
"We will never urge the Ukrainians to make a compromise for something that would not be acceptable to them," Macron said. "If we want to build a sustainable peace, Ukraine must decide the conditions on which they would negotiate about their territory."
Asked if he was confident that the United States would continue to support Ukraine with the Republicans taking over the House -- and some expressing an unwillingness to do so -- Macron said the aid was about commitment and principles rather than dollar signs.
"Our two nations are made up of values and history," Macron said. "What's at stake in Ukraine ... is about our values and it's about our principles and it's about what we've agreed to together in the U.N. Charter in protecting sovereignty and territorial integrity."
Biden said the only "rational" way for the war to end would be for Russia to pull out of Ukraine, but he did not see that happening anytime soon.
Putin "is paying a heavy price doing that, but he's inflicting incredible carnage on the civilian population of Ukraine, bombing nurseries, hospitals, nursing homes. It's sick what he's doing."
Biden said he has no immediate plans to contact Putin, but that his door remained open to talking about ending the war.
"If that's the case, in consultation with my French and NATO friends, I would be happy to sit down with Putin to see what he has in mind," Biden said. "He hasn't done that yet. In the meantime ... we must support the Ukrainian people."
On economics, Biden said the United States' push to revamp its supply chain is not meant to isolate the country and should not affect European allies.
"We've never intended to exclude people who are cooperating with us," Biden said. "We're back in business. Europe is back in business. We will continue to create manufacturing jobs, but not at the expense of Europe."
In comments before their meeting, Biden and Macron acknowledged the shared history of France as the United States' oldest ally and the sacrifices made to liberate France during World War II.
Biden called the alliance between the United States and France "essential" to their mutual defense.
He cited the two nations as examples of how democracies can lead on such issues as the economy and climate change.
"We are proving around the world that democracies deliver, from our joint leadership to make sure our partners everywhere, that parents everywhere can feed their children, cooperate and tackle the climate crisis, preserve our planet for generations yet to come," he said.
Meanwhile, U.S. first lady Jill Biden and French first lady Brigitte Macron toured Planet Word, an interactive museum in Washington about language. They were joined by local students enrolled in a French immersion program.
The Bidens were scheduled to host the Macrons for a state dinner on Thursday evening at the White House. Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, will also attend.
Grammy winner Jon Batiste is scheduled to perform.
On Wednesday with Vice President Kamala Harris, Macron touted the partnership and cooperation between French and U.S. researchers at NASA headquarters as they viewed images of II ZW 96, captured by the James Webb Space Telescope.
The telescope is part of an international project with partners from NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.