Macron, Trump strike bal­ance

Pres­i­dents view Bastille Day events, ex­change praises

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL - LORI HINNANT AND VI­VIAN SALAMA

PARIS — With a mil­i­tary pa­rade on the Champs-El­y­sees and a gilded tour of France’s most sto­ried mon­u­ments, French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron laid on the charm as he po­si­tioned him­self as the in­dis­pens­able in­ter­me­di­ary be­tween Europe and Don­ald Trump.

The Bastille Day demon­stra­tion Fri­day capped two days of Parisian glitz for Trump and his wife, who were Macron’s guests of honor in com­mem­o­ra­tion of the 100th an­niver­sary of Amer­ica’s en­try into World War I.

Thank­ing the United States for the de­ci­sion that turned the tide of a dev­as­tat­ing con­flict, Macron said the Trumps’ pres­ence on France’s na­tional hol­i­day “is the sign of a friend­ship across the ages.”

Macron made a point of de­tail­ing both the long his­tory of ties be­tween France and the U.S. and the ar­eas where he and Trump dis­agree. But he made clear it was in the spirit of blunt­ness with a friend and ally, even of­fer­ing a con­spir­a­to­rial wink dur­ing a joint news con­fer­ence.

The two-day visit be­gin­ning Thurs­day fea­tured a per­sonal tour of the gold­en­domed In­valides mon­u­ment and a pri­vate din­ner high in the Eif­fel Tower pre­pared by chef Alain Du­casse.

Trump had front-row seats at the re­view­ing stand Fri­day, ap­plaud­ing dur­ing the hours­long pa­rade car­ried out un­der blue skies as var­i­ous French mil­i­tary units marched past. At one point, Trump saluted a com­bined group of U.S. Army and Navy troops and Marines tak­ing part in the an­nual event.

Macron and Trump both came to of­fice as un­likely out­sider can­di­dates. The youngest pres­i­dent of mod­ern France — and the same age as Don­ald Trump Jr. — Macron started his own po­lit­i­cal move­ment just over a year ago. He won a strong par­lia­men­tary ma­jor­ity and is rid­ing high in the polls.

The flat­ter­ing French visit gave Trump a respite from his trou­bles at home, and he amended the opin­ion of a friend he calls Jim, who be­lieves that “Paris isn’t Paris any longer” be­cause of the blight of Is­lamic ex­trem­ism.

Asked about Jim’s crit­i­cisms Thurs­day, Trump de­flected and said Paris was “go­ing to be just fine” be­cause France now has a “great” and “tough” pres­i­dent. At Macron’s and Trump’s first en­counter in May, the two shared a white-knuckle hand­shake that the French pres­i­dent said was in­tended to show he was no pushover.

As Fri­day’s visit ended, the men em­braced, and then the arm wrestling seemed to be­gin anew. As Trump walked to his mo­tor­cade, he gripped Macron’s hand firmly, pulling the smaller man off-bal­ance and held fast as they walked to­gether to­ward their wives.

Still, both seemed to min­i­mize their dif­fer­ences, said Spencer Boyer, for­mer na­tional in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer for Europe and a se­nior fel­low at the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion.

“Pres­i­dent Macron was highly skilled at putting Pres­i­dent Trump at ease and avoid­ing any land mines that would have de­railed the show of unity,” Boyer said. “Macron was es­pe­cially adept at sidestep­ping ques­tions about U.S. po­lit­i­cal con­tro­ver­sies, which Trump clearly ap­pre­ci­ated.”

Although the wel­come may have taken some of the sting out of their first en­counter, Macron’s ami­able meet­ing with Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel ear­lier in the day showed the bal­ance Macron ap­pears to be strik­ing.

With Merkel, he em­pha­sized their agree­ment on nearly ev­ery is­sue as well as their joint devel­op­ment of a fighter jet.

The Ger­man leader said there was no get­ting around in­ter­de­pen­dence in the 21st cen­tury. “Europe alone can­not win the war on ter­ror­ism,” Merkel said.

“There is no di­ver­gence be­tween France and Ger­many in the man­ner of treat­ing Pres­i­dent Trump,” Macron added.

Still, the Ger­man chan­cel­lor, who was less than a block from the U.S. Em­bassy when Trump was en­sconced in­side, left the pres­i­den­tial palace be­fore she and Trump could cross paths.

Trump left open the pos­si­bil­ity that he would re­con­sider his de­ci­sion to pull the U.S. out of the Paris cli­mate ac­cord — the main source of dis­agree­ment with Euro­pean Union gov­ern­ments. But he said if it doesn’t hap­pen, “that will be OK too.”

Macron’s abil­ity to firmly ac­knowl­edge his dif­fer­ences with Trump are part of mod­ern French tra­di­tion. His in­vi­ta­tion to Trump was “a way of il­lus­trat­ing the his­tory of France and Amer­ica, al­lied but not aligned,” said Thomas Go­mart, di­rec­tor of the French In­sti­tute for In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions.

Trump’s part­ing tweet showed a photo of the two men look­ing out over the Champs- El­y­sees, stand­ing shoul­der to shoul­der dur­ing what the Amer­i­can de­scribed as a “mag­nif­i­cent #BastilleDay pa­rade.”

AP/CAROLYN KASTER

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, first lady Me­la­nia Trump, French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron, leave the view­ing stand at the end of the Bastille Day pa­rade Fri­day in Paris.

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