Emmanuel Macron is forced on Monday to a balancing act by receiving the head of American diplomacy Mike Pompeo, who has still not recognized the defeat of Donald Trump, while already turning to his relationship with the future president of the States- United, Joe Biden.
The French president is due to meet the Secretary of State at the Elysee Palace, but the interview should be done discreetly, away from microphones, just like the one between Mike Pompeo and his counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian.
Paris underlines indeed having accepted to receive Mike Pompeo at its own request, and "in full transparency with the team of President-elect Joe Biden", and while the French government wishes a refoundation of the transatlanic relationship on the occasion of the change administration.
President Macron was among the first to congratulate the Democrat on his election to the United States, and then to speak with him on the phone. And this even though the outgoing Republican president has still not acknowledged his defeat, more than a week after the announcement of the results.
Mike Pompeo himself, before taking off for a tour of Europe and the Middle East of which Paris is the first stop, refused to recognize the victory of Joe Biden. "There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration," he said last week, before criticizing foreign leaders who have already made contact with the Democrat.
The atmosphere could therefore be tense behind closed doors in Parisian palaces for this first, and probably last, visit of Mr. Pompeo to Paris (other than in the company of Donald Trump).
And beyond these two parallel realities that parasitize American diplomacy, there is no lack of friction.
Jean-Yves Le Drian warned that he would oppose, in front of Mike Pompeo, an acceleration of the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, envisaged by Donald Trump before the official end of his mandate, on January 20.
The Iranian dossier which, along with the climate and trade, has contributed to a certain rupture between Washington and the Old Continent for four years, will also be on the table for the last time.
Donald Trump slammed the door in 2018 on the international agreement signed three years earlier with Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons, deeming it insufficient, and reinstated and then tightened sanctions against Tehran. The Europeans are trying to save this deal, at least until Joe Biden takes office, who has promised to return to diplomacy.
However, the Trump administration has promised to further strengthen punitive measures until the end - a strategy seen by some observers as the desire to build a "wall of sanctions" so high that it will be difficult for the Democrat to go back.
"Whatever the outcome of these elections" in the United States, "this administration is there at least until January 20", and "the campaign of maximum pressure" against Iran "is not going to end in the next few months, "a senior US official told reporters.
According to the State Department, discussions will also focus on "transatlantic unity", often abused during the Trump era, as well as the fight against terrorism.
After spending the weekend in private with his wife Susan Pompeo in Paris, during what looks a lot like a farewell tour that does not say his name, the US Minister of Foreign Affairs is also due, Monday morning, to return a tribute to the victims of the recent attacks in France.
On this occasion, he should once again denounce the murder of the French teacher Samuel Paty, beheaded on October 16 by an Islamist killer in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, near Paris, as well as the attack which left three dead on October 29. in the Basilica of Nice, in the south-east of France.
Mike Pompeo will then fly to Turkey, where he plans to meet Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, spiritual leader of the Orthodox Church, but not Turkish officials, despite numerous disputes with Ankara.
Turkish diplomacy was offended by its desire to assert "the firm position" of the United States on religious freedom during this trip.
The Secretary of State is to continue his tour in Georgia, Jerusalem and then in the Gulf.