Trump talks Middle East with France’s Macron
WASHINGTON •Therewas hand-holding. There were bear hugs. There were pats on the shoulder and kisses on both cheeks.
If physical intimacy is any sign of diplomatic closeness, Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron are in the full throws of a political bromance.
The new relation speciale between France and America was on full display on the second day of Macron’s state visit to Washington Tuesday.
“Mr. President, they’re all saying what a great relationship we have and they’re actually correct,” Trump told Macron as the cameras rolled. “Finally, it’s not fake news.”
Macron, 31 years younger and half a foot shorter than Trump, beamed up at his counterpart during many of their engagements. Trump, for his part, appeared unusually relaxed.
The pair did not disguise their policy differences but made much of their “special” friendship, not holding back on the flattery.
“We have a very special relationship, in fact I’ll get that little piece of dandruff off,” Trump joked at one point, brushing at the French president’s shoulder. “We have to make him perfect, he is perfect.”
A joint press conference followed, with the men’s wives — Melania Trump dressed all in white, with a hat and jacket from Michael Kors — watching on from the front row.
But during discussions, Trump vowed to pull U.S. troops out of Syria “relatively soon” and refused to waive steel tariffs as he declined to give any major concessions to Macron.
However, Trump did offer an olive branch by appearing to soften his tone on the Syria withdrawal, indicating he did not want his forces to leave until their mission was “accomplished”.
Macron has pushed Trump to keep troops in Syria to fight Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and the president will face further pressure to do so from Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, who also visits the U.S. this week. But at a press conference in the White House with Macron, Trump said: “We want to come home. We’ll be coming home. We’re going to be coming home relatively soon.
“We finished at least almost our work and we have done a job nobody has been able to. I would love to get out, bring our incredible warriors back home. They have obliterated ISIS.”
However, Trump said the U.S. wanted to “leave a long and lasting footprint” and did not want to “give Iran open season to the Mediterranean”. He said he wanted troops home, but “also with having accomplished what we have to accomplish”. Macron said he and Trump had “raised new solutions together, and the Syria situation should be part of this bigger picture” in the Middle East. Trump accepted there was a “broader picture” involving Iran, but said “incredibly wealthy” regional nations must pay for and put troops on the ground.
President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron walk to the Oval Office of the White House Tuesday, a meeting of the leaders that included an odd moment when Trump brushed dandruff off Macron’s jacket.