Harry S. Truman Building
2:17 P.M. EDT
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: I want to thank our Acting Secretary, John Sullivan, for those stirring words and for his warm hospitality here today at the State Department.
President Macron, Madam Macron, Ambassador McCourt, members of the Cabinet, members of Congress, distinguished leaders and guests from both sides of the Atlantic, you may feel free to be seated. (Laughter.)
It is a great honor for me as Vice President to host you at the State Department today, Mr. President, as we celebrate the enduring friendship between the United States of America and the French Republic. Karen and I are deeply humbled to join you and Madam Macron today with all of these distinguished guests.
Mr. President, it’s no accident that France is the very first nation to be welcomed to the United States for an official state visit under this administration. History attests France was America’s first ally and France was America’s first friend. (Applause.)
And as your visit demonstrates, under President Donald Trump, our cherished bond is only growing stronger. But, Mr. President, it’s also not an accident that you, in particular, are the first leader to receive this high honor. As President Trump said earlier today, the two of you have a wonderful friendship, as evident for all the world to see today.
And it is remarkable to think about the similarities the two of you share. Just like our President, you won an extraordinary victory. You upended the establishment. You’re charting an inspiring new course for your nation.
Just like our President, you’re fighting tirelessly to restore prosperity for your people, enacting bold reforms by cutting regulations and cutting taxes — actions that even now are reviving the economy of France.
And just as President Trump promised to make America great again, you promised to move France forward — En Marche. (Laughter.) And I know that everyone here will join me in applauding the historic progress that you and President Trump are making for both our peoples. (Applause.)
Under President Trump’s leadership of the United States and your leadership of France, our nations are growing ever closer. As President Trump said earlier today in the Oval Office, in his words, he couldn’t imagine it had ever been closer. And your strong personal relationship is a reflection of the bond between our two people.
But as we heard today on the South Lawn of the White House, the vibrant friendship between the President of France and the President of the United States has its roots in American history. Indeed, this morning, you both reflected on a 19-year-old Frenchman who aided America during our revolution. And today, it’s a joy for me to reflect on the story of the great friendship between the Marquis de Lafayette and General George Washington.
As President Trump said this morning, the bond “between the United States and France actually began 241 years ago this month,” when Lafayette set sail for America.
Only weeks after he arrived, Lafayette met George Washington. Lafayette, at age 19; General Washington at age 45. But, there, was forged a bond for the ages. Washington saw in Lafayette leadership qualities and the courage that would make a difference in the Continental Army. And the alliance was born.
For the next four years, Lafayette served at General Washington’s side. He survived the long winter at Valley Forge, he fought the enemy to a standstill at Monmouth, and he led one of the final charges in the Siege of Yorktown that won our war of independence and secured our freedom.
After the war concluded, Lafayette returned to France to advance the cause of liberty in your homeland. And as you mentioned on the South Lawn today, last night at Mt. Vernon, you saw firsthand the key to the Bastille that Lafayette would return to America and present to General Washington as a sign of his enduring admiration and the strong bond between our two people.
Ultimately, those two great men shared a love of liberty, and to this day, freedom, liberty is the cord that binds the United States and France together, as allies and as friends.
Though we’re separated by an ocean, freedom unites our nations in common purpose. Though we speak different languages, freedom gives our people a common tongue. And though our two nations have charted our own distinct courses over all the years, freedom gives us a common future — a future that we are forging even today.
The shared love of liberty is why France and the United States stand together with our NATO allies to ensure a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace. It’s why our citizens and our soldiers have stood shoulder-to-shoulder together in a fight against the barbarians of ISIS, and worked together to cut out the cancer of radical Islamic terrorism that threatens civilization itself.
And it’s why, earlier this month, the United States and France, together with the United Kingdom, took decisive action to cripple the chemical weapons program of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. And, President Macron, on behalf of President Trump and the American people, let me say once again: Thank you for your leadership and thank you for the brave and capable men and women of the French Navy. La Royale did an extraordinary job. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT MACRON: Thank you.
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: In times like this, in the life of both of our nations, it is heartening. It is heartening to stand with a friend who shares our most cherished values and who — a friend also who has the strength and the will to stand with our strong President to defend our way of life and our values. And we know that friend is France.
I couldn’t help but think, as you and President Trump planted a tree on the lawn of the White House yesterday, of the metaphor of a long and enduring relationship. And let me just say, in the words of the Psalmist, may this relationship grow “like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, and produces its fruit in season whose leaf also does not wither.”
So today, on behalf of our President, on behalf of the American people, I offer a toast — a toast to President Macron, to President Trump, to the good people of both of our nations. May our friendship grow even stronger and may we never grow weary as we work together to forge a future of freedom and peace in our time.
God Bless you, Mr. President. God bless France. And God bless the United States of America. À votre santé. (Laughter.) (A toast is offered.)
PRESIDENT MACRON: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Ladies and gentlemen, President Macron. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT MACRON: (As interpreted.) Mr. Vice President, Madam Pence, Secretary of State, Madam Rodriguez, members of the American Congress and of the French Parliament, ladies and gentlemen: It is for Brigitte and myself an immense honor, as well as for the whole of our delegation, to be together with you today in this temple of American diplomacy — a diplomacy which has for a long time been close to France.
You both reminded us, Mr. Vice President and Secretary of State — reminded us of the deepness of our bonds as illustrated by our contact with President Trump since we arrived yesterday. We’ve always been there for one another. When it was about building a new, free country, some young French men came to support it because they’d found about the values of the United States. When, on both sides of the oceans, it was about defending that freedom, you joined us on the occasion of the First, as well as the Second World War, where you stood with us to defend our values and this joint destiny.
And along these centuries, your diplomacy — and I apologize to the military present here — our defense is great because our diplomacy is great, and they strengthen each other. Your diplomacy has constantly been working with ours in order to build a coherent approach of the world.
In this place, some major events for our modern peace have been prepared for or agreed upon. And this is, in particular, based on the friendship between our two countries, which has contributed to forging this Western world based on democracy, the freedom of individuals, and enable us to build the international order that we know. It is based upon a balance, always fragile, because it relies on the powers and counter-powers, and what each and every one does. But it is an indispensable balance for the world.
An economic, financial, political order has been put together after the Second World War. Is it perfect? Probably not. Can it be improved? Definitely. Have we seen anything better? I do not think so.
This order that we built, which your diplomacy contributed to, is the one which is, in the name of all values, from the United Nations, to the IMF and the World Trade Organization, and thanks to all of the international organizations we’ve put together, this order enables us to enjoy the framework for all cooperation and for defending our values. And this is what we’re here to defend today.
I will talk about it further tomorrow, when I take the floor before the Congress. It is an honor for France, and I shall thank your country and President Trump for that. And I will say it once again: I believe in a modern multilateralism — a strong one which knows how to be respected, how to build peace, foster peace, and foster jobs as well. It’s not about endless regulations; neither is it about a new framework within which we would give up on the values on everything we’ve taken so much time to build.
So in this place, which is so important for the history of your country, as well as the history of our relationship, I’m well aware that I’m talking to leaders in a place where a lot of our future will be decided.
I also would like to say a few words about our economic relations. Today are here with us many men and women who very much are (inaudible) thanks to their investments of our economic bonds. And the United States of America, as a matter of fact, is the first foreign investor in France, and it is also the first country where French businesses invest.
In total, it is $100 billion in goods and services that we exchange every year. It is, therefore, a relationship based upon the strength of our economic relation. Because there’s always something more than the economy between our two countries, because it is our vision of the world, our values, our joint ambition. From distribution to finance, the energy sector, the defense sector, research, education, scientific cooperation, we have this strong bond.
Over the past few months, we implemented, on both sides of the ocean, some major reforms which have brought about some new momentum to these exchanges.
Since 2017, the United States is once again the first source of foreign investment in France, and I’m very pleased about it and would like it to continue. And I’m very pleased that some of you have, over the past few weeks and even today, have announced some huge investment in France in the field of tourism, the media, intelligence artificial — artificial intelligence — financial sector, the pharmaceutical sector as well. And I would like us to continue to work to that end.
Investments — investing in a business; investing in human capital through education and training — this is absolutely indispensable for us to succeed. In France, we’ll continue to implement reforms and to transform the country in order to make it even more competitive so that, within the European Union, we can shoulder all of our responsibilities and support the necessary reforms in the coming months, and continue — in education, in culture, in research, and in the business sector — continue to be the leader that we are, in order to continue to be this counterpart that we’ve been to the United States for a long time.
Of course, it is about creating new jobs for all peoples, in particular our middle classes; it is about also facing up to the coming challenges. The energy transformation, as well as the digital transformation, everything that will be required in terms of intelligence — artificial intelligence — the changes that it will bring about, our ability to attract talents. And we will have to work to make sure that it is still possible, because we know how to defend this peace that we cherish together.
And be it about the international order or the economic order we believe in, we can only keep them if we constantly reinvent them by managing to convince on a daily basis our fellow citizens that this is the right thing for them. There can be no success detrimental to our peoples, and I know that we cannot succeed without protecting and continuing to cherish values. This is against this background that we will face up to the challenges ahead of us, be they political or economic.
But I’m aware that, in this city, and together with you, Secretary of State, Mr. Vice President, and together with President Trump, we have reliable allies, we have one historical ally — which means that any disagreement we may all have at some point in time will not overcome the strength of history, the weight of our duty, and the values that we’ve been sharing.
So please allow me to raise my glass to this house, to your diplomacy, to all of our guests who are keeping alive the relationship, the economic relationship between our two countries. I raise my glass to your President, to your people, to the friendship between the United States of America and France.
Santé. Cheers. (A toast is offered.) (Applause.)
2:37 P.M. EDT