Trump patches over rift with Macron, cancels cemetery visit
President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron tried to project unity Saturday after Trump had lashed out at one of America’s strongest allies in Europe, claiming Macron insulted the United States when he pushed the idea of the continent having its own defense force.
The American and French leaders, who have had an up-and-down relationship, told reporters they were good friends before going behind closed doors for talks at the Elysee Palace. It was Trump’s first stop on a weekend trip to Paris where world leaders were gathering to commemorate Sunday’s 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
Trump also had been scheduled to visit the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery at Belleau Wood on Saturday, but canceled because of rainy weather that grounded the presidential helicopter. The president was criticized for not finding a way to get to the cemetery, a two-hour drive east of Paris, where Americans killed in World War I are buried. The White House sent a delegation in his place.
The dustup over European security, which threatened to divert attention from the weekend’s somber remembrance ceremonies, was just the latest example of fallout from Trump’s diplomacy.
His fractious relationship with Europe has driven a wedge between the U.S. and some of its oldest allies on issues including trade, defense spending and his seeming deference to their looming neighbor to the east, Russia’s Vladimir Putin. It also underscored the hotand-cold relationship that Trump has had with Macron, who has increasingly branded himself as a bulwark against the rising tide of Trump-style nationalism across Europe.
The brouhaha began Friday night, when Trump unleashed an angry Twitter jab at his host just as Air Force One touched down in Paris. Trump tweeted that Macron “has just suggested that Europe build its own military in order to protect itself from the U.S., China and Russia. Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the U.S. subsidizes greatly!”
French President Emmanuel Macron, left, poses with President Donald Trump prior to their meeting at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris, Saturday.