US leader ends French visit, saying relationship is ‘stronger than ever’
PARIS — US President Donald Trump watched US and French soldiers march together through the Paris sunshine on Friday in a double celebration marking 100 years since the United States entered World War I and France’s annual Bastille Day holiday.
The occasion, also featuring a binational fly-past of fighter jets symbolizing military cooperation in the Middle East and elsewhere, followed a day of talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, a first ladies’ tour of Paris, and a dinner for the four at a restaurant in the Eiffel Tower.
“Great evening with President Emmanuel Macron & Mrs Macron. Went to Eiffel Tower for dinner. Relationship with France stronger than ever,” Trump said in a tweet.
The ceremonies bring to an end a visit Macron needs as a boost to France’s standing on the world stage — one which could also help a US leader left short of international friends by his stance on free trade and climate change.
Trump, also dogged at home by an investigation into alleged Russian interference in the US election last year, said he would invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to the White House but added that now was not the right time for that.
Also, he appeared on Thursday to leave the door open for more talks on the Paris accord which he pulled the US out of earlier this year.
Macron arrived standing in a military jeep and surrounded by cavalry — repeating a scene from his inauguration two months ago and reinforcing the message that he heads an important military power.
The scene also serves as a reminder of a fierce row that erupted this week between Macron and his armed-forces chief, General Pierre de Villers, over proposed budget cuts for the defense ministry.
Trump arrived with his wife Melania in a black sedan.
At the parade, the two heads of state sat together in a stand applauding, pointing and touching each other on the arm as military aircraft flew overhead. Trump saluted as military personnel — some in World War I battledress — filed past with the Arc de Triomphe in the background.
For France, this year’s Bas- tille Day has an additional poignancy as the first anniversary of one of the deadliest extremist militant attacks of the past few years.
After the parade, his first as president, Macron will head for the Mediterranean city of Nice, where he will join a commemoration for the 86 people who died when a Tunisian man drove a truck at a crowd on the waterfront a year ago.
The US Air Force Thunderbirds fly over the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel during the traditional Bastille Day military parade in Paris, France, on Friday.