Trump, Macron look past Paris cli­mate pact

Two lead­ers talk about Syria and Mid­dle East

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - VI­VIAN SALAMA

PARIS — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron set aside lin­ger­ing dif­fer­ences on cli­mate change dur­ing their meet­ing in France, as­sert­ing that it shouldn’t pre­vent them from work­ing to­gether to­ward a post­war road map for Syria and to en­hance Mideast se­cu­rity.

Trump, stand­ing along­side Macron at a news con­fer­ence Thurs­day, said the two na­tions have “oc­ca­sional dis­agree­ments” but that would not dis­rupt a friend­ship that dates back to the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion. He re­mained non­com­mit­tal about the United States even­tu­ally re­join­ing the global cli­mate agree­ment that bears Paris’ name, telling Macron, “If it hap­pens that will be won­der­ful, and if it doesn’t that will be OK too.”

Macron ac­knowl­edged sharp dif­fer­ences on the Paris cli­mate pact but said the two lead­ers could find other ar­eas of co-op­er­a­tion. “Should that have an im­pact on the dis­cus­sions we’re hav­ing on all other top­ics? No, ab­so­lutely not,” he said.

Trump ar­rived in the French cap­i­tal on Thurs­day for a whirl­wind, 36-hour visit to meet with Macron and tackle po­ten­tial so­lu­tions to the cri­sis in Syria and dis­cuss broader coun­tert­er­ror­ism strate­gies be­fore be­ing feted at Bastille Day cel­e­bra­tions Fri­day.

The pres­i­dent landed in Paris amid ques­tions about emails show­ing that his el­dest son, Don­ald Trump Jr., wel­comed the prospect of re­ceiv­ing Rus­sian gov­ern­ment sup­port in last year’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign be­tween his fa­ther and Hil­lary Clin­ton.

Trump de­fended his name­sake, say­ing that “most peo­ple would have taken that meet­ing,” a mes­sage that con­tra­dicted his in­com­ing FBI di­rec­tor’s tes­ti­mony that Don­ald Trump Jr. should have in­stead alerted au­thor­i­ties.

Trump called his son a “won­der­ful young man” and con­tin­ued to down­play the is­sue, say­ing that “noth­ing hap­pened” as a re­sult of the meet­ing.

Dur­ing his flight to Paris, Trump had praised his son as “a good boy” and a “good kid” and said that he’d lis­tened to the Rus­sian lawyer’s pitch “out of po­lite­ness.”

Trump also con­tin­ued to cast doubt on the con­clu­sion of U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies that Putin had med­dled in the elec­tion to help him win, telling re­porters that, “The next time I’m with Putin, I’m go­ing to ask him: Who were you re­ally for? Be­cause I can’t be­lieve that he would have been for me.” The con­ver­sa­tion was orig­i­nally de­scribed as off-the-record, but the White House de­cided to re­lease por­tions Thurs­day.

Top­ics like re­solv­ing the years­long civil war in Syria and coun­ter­ing ter­ror­ism gave Trump and Macron ar­eas to co-op­er­ate. The two said they also dis­cussed the se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tions in Ukraine and Libya.

Trump praised a cease­fire in south­ern Syria that he helped bro­ker last week with Rus­sia and Jor­dan and said the U.S. was work­ing on a sec­ond cease­fire in a “rough part of Syria.”

Macron said he dis­cussed with Trump a road map for the coun­try that would help sta­bi­lize the sit­u­a­tion after the war ends. He has ar­gued for in­ter­ven­tion in Syria, say­ing that Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad is a threat to the war-rav­aged coun­try and the Is­lamic State group is a threat to France. France has been plagued in re­cent years by ex­trem­ist at­tacks and Trump noted that dur­ing last year’s Bastille Day cel­e­bra­tions, a 19-ton cargo truck de­lib­er­ately plowed into crowds in Nice, killing more than 80 peo­ple.

While the U.S. has split with the ma­jor world pow­ers on the en­vi­ron­ment, the two lead­ers tried to patch over those dif­fer­ences.

Trump has said the cli­mate deal was un­fair to the U.S. but said the coun­try was com­mit­ted to pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment de­spite his re­cent with­drawal de­ci­sion.

Macron, a staunch ad­vo­cate of re­search to com­bat global warm­ing, has beck­oned “all re­spon­si­ble cit­i­zens,” in­clud­ing Amer­i­can sci­en­tists and re­searchers, to bring their fight against cli­mate change to France.

Trump, Macron, Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel and other world lead­ers hud­dled last week in Ham­burg, Ger­many dur­ing a sum­mit of the world’s lead­ing rich and de­vel­op­ing na­tions. Merkel and Macron met again Thurs­day in Paris, be­fore Macron’s meet­ing with Trump. Trump and Merkel were not ex­pected to meet.

Trump and Macron spent sev­eral hours to­gether Thurs­day in some of Paris’ most op­u­lent set­tings, with a visit to the golden-domed In­valides mon­u­ment fol­lowed by meet­ings at the pres­i­den­tial palace. Trump also marked the 100th an­niver­sary of Amer­ica’s en­try into the First World War by vis­it­ing U.S. troops.

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