WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden this week will host French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron, for the Biden administration’s first state dinner.
White House spokesperson John Kirby said Monday that the dinner, which is scheduled for Thursday, “is an opportunity to highlight a foundational component of this administration’s approach to foreign policy and that’s through alliances.”
“France is a vital global partner and, of course, the United States’ oldest ally,” Kirby said. “Our partnership and tackling tough global challenges underpinned by our shared commitment to democratic principles, values and institutions, and our cultural ties remain a source of strength and importance to our bilateral relationship.”
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This is not the first time Macron has attended a state dinner at the White House. In April 2018, then-President Donald Trump hosted the French president for Trump’s first official state dinner.
What Macron’s schedule looks like
The French president arrives in Washington this week ahead of Thursday’s dinner.
Macron on Wednesday will join Vice President Kamala Harris in visiting NASA headquarters. Kirby said the visit will “showcase our deepening collaboration on space in support of Earth climate and space science and space exploration.”
On Thursday, Biden and the first lady, along with Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff, will greet Macron and his wife for the official arrival ceremony.
Biden and Macron will have a bilateral discussion on the same day where the two leaders “will discuss our continued close partnership on shared global challenges and areas of bilateral interest,” according to the White House. They will then hold a press conference following the bilateral meeting.
Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday will also host a luncheon at the State Department for Macron.
Harris and Emhoff will also be in attendance at the state dinner.
“Throughout all of these events, you can expect to see on display both our long shared history as allies as well as our deep partnership and taking on the most urgent global challenges of today and tomorrow,” Kirby said Monday.
What to expect at the state dinner
The dinner is a black tie event where many lawmakers, ambassadors and diplomats are often in attendance.
Some celebrities have also made appearances.
This year, musician and Grammy winner Jon Batiste is set to perform.
“An artist who transcends generations, Jon Batiste’s music inspires and brings people together,” said Vanessa Valdivia, a spokesperson for first lady Jill Biden, whose office is overseeing dinner preparations. “We’re thrilled to have him perform at the White House for the first state dinner of the Biden-Harris administration.”
What is a state dinner?
The state dinner is a long-standing tradition at the White House that gives the president and first lady the chance to honor a world leader with their spouse, according to the White House Historical Association.
The first-ever White House state dinner was held in December 1874 by President Ulysses S. Grant, who hosted King David Kalakaua of the Kingdom of Hawai’i.
Among the world leaders who have been hosted at the White House include General Secretary Mikhail S. Gorbachev of the Soviet Union in December 1987, who was hosted by then-President Ronald Reagan.
In 2001, then-President George W. Bush held a white-tie state dinner for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, “to mark the 400th anniversary of the English settlement of Jamestown, Virginia,” according to the White House Historical Association.
Contributing: Associated Press; Merdie Nzanga
Reach Rebecca Morin at Twitter @RebeccaMorin_
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: What to know: Biden hosts French President Macron for state dinner