Trump, Macron look past Paris climate pact
Two leaders talk about Syria and Middle East
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.