Sunday

17th Feb 2019

Trump and Macron turn on the charm

  • Trump went to France to mark a national holiday and a WWI anniversary (Photo: The White House)

US leader Donald Trump and France’s Emmanuel Macron made a show of friendship in Paris on Thursday (13 July).

Trump said he might soften his climate policy and spoke less harshly than usual against free trade.

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  • Trump in France after trip to Poland and to G20 in Germany last week (Photo: The White House)

He said “something could happen with respect to the Paris Accord. We'll see what happens. But we will talk about that over the coming period of time”.

He also said “the United States remains committed to being a leader in environmental protection”.

The US president said last month that America, the world’s second biggest polluter, would pull out of the Paris agreement, which aims to limit global warming, and has promised to champion US fossil fuels firms.

He has also promised to put “America first” on trade, but he said on Thursday: “We must … confront unfair trade practices that hurt our workers, and pursue trade deals that are reciprocal and fair”.

He spoke on a visit to mark the French national day and to commemorate the 100th anniversary of US intervention in World War I.

The state pomp was matched by personal gestures.

Trump said to Macron: “The friendship between our two nations - and ourselves, I might add - is unbreakable”.

The two men exchanged smiles and pats on the arm, in contrast to their first meeting, in June, when they had a handshake tug-of-war.

Trump had, in the past, denigrated Paris as a terrorist risk, but he said on Thursday it was “one of the great cities, one of the most beautiful cities in the world”.

He said “You [the French people] have a tough president [Macron] … You’re going to have a very, very peaceful and beautiful Paris”.

Macron said there was still “disagreement” on climate and no breakthrough on commerce, but he said that he and Trump saw eye to eye on the importance of “fair, free trade”.

“It will … give me great pleasure to have dinner together with you tonight”, Macron added, on a day of official engagements also with his wife and with the US first lady.

Trump, earlier the same day, even told Macron's wife that she was "in such good shape ... beautiful".

They also talked about Libya, Iraq, Syria, Russia, and Ukraine.

Trump has been dogged by accusations that he colluded with Russia to beat Hillary Clinton in last year’s US elections.

He defended his son’s decision to meet a Russian lawyer to get compromising material on Clinton by saying it was “standard” practice in politics.

“Politics is not the nicest business in the world”, Trump said in Paris on Thursday.

Russia deals

He said that he and Russia were working “on a second ceasefire in a very rough part of Syria”.

He told press earlier, while flying to Paris, that he might do a “deal” with Russia on Ukraine and US sanctions in future.

“I would never take the sanctions off until something is worked out to our satisfaction and everybody’s satisfaction in Syria and in Ukraine. I’ve made great deals. That’s what I do. Why would I take sanctions off without getting anything?”, Trump said.

He also said he might invite Russian leader Vladimir Putin to the White House, but he added: “I don't think this is the right time”.

Macron told media: “We have a lot of discrepancies, obviously, with Russia, but in the current environment, especially in the Middle East, it's a necessity to work together”.

“It’s important that both of us [Trump and Macron] have direct discussion and contact with president Putin,” he added.

Opinion

Macron goes east to test appetite for EU integration

The next few months will be decisive in selecting who stays in the core of the EU and who stays behind, writes Tomas Prouza, a former state secretary for European Affairs of the Czech Republic.

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