Pres­i­dent heads to Paris after midterm elec­tions

Short stay doesn’t in­clude sched­uled meet­ing with Putin.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - - NATION & WORLD - Peter Baker

PARIS — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump left Wash­ing­ton on Fri­day en route to France to join other world lead­ers mark­ing the 100th an­niver­sary of the end of World War I, leav­ing be­hind a U.S. cap­i­tal roil­ing over the midterm elec­tion re­sults and the dis­missal of At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions.

Ac­com­pa­nied by Me­la­nia Trump, the pres­i­dent took off on Air Force One head­ing over the At­lantic for a short stay in Paris, his first over­seas trip since July when he met with Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin of Rus­sia in Helsinki. The two at one point had ex­pected to meet again here in Paris, but Don­ald Trump said this week that they had noth­ing on the sched­ule.

The pres­i­dent is set to spend just about 48 hours on the ground but will have the chance to in­ter­act with Putin and other world lead­ers at sev­eral events hosted by Pres­i­dent Emanuel Macron of France. While in France, Trump plans to sit down for a for­mal meet­ing with Macron, who ini­tially sought to forge a friendly re­la­tion­ship with the U.S. pres­i­dent only to see it fall out over trade and other dis­putes.

Other pres­i­dents have promptly left the coun­try after midterm elec­tion de­feats. Bill Clin­ton headed to the Philip­pines and In­done­sia the week­end after his party lost both houses of Congress in 1994. Ge­orge W. Bush trav­eled to Rus­sia, Sin­ga­pore, Viet­nam and In­done­sia a week after los­ing both houses in 2006. Barack Obama trav­eled to In­dia, In­done­sia, South Korea and Ja­pan the week­end after los­ing the House in 2010.

The pres­i­dent was sched­uled to land in Paris on Fri­day night and had no pub­lic events sched­uled in the evening. To­day, he will meet with Macron at the Élysée Palace and then visit the Aisne-Marne Amer­i­can Ceme­tery at the foot of the hill where the Bat­tle of Bel­leau Wood was fought. He will at­tend a din­ner hosted by Macron at the end of the day.

On Sun­day, he will join about 70 world lead­ers for the cer­e­mony at the Arc de Tri­om­phe mark­ing the armistice that ended World War I on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. Af­ter­ward, he will join the lead­ers for lunch and sep­a­rately head to the Suresnes Amer­i­can Ceme­tery out­side Paris be­fore leav­ing for home in the af­ter­noon.

He will not stay for the Paris Peace Fo­rum, a gather­ing Macron is in­au­gu­rat­ing to bring to­gether gov­ern­ments and pri­vate or­ga­ni­za­tions to im­prove in­ter­na­tional co­or­di­na­tion and ex­am­ine ways to avoid the sort of ten­sions that led to World War I and other con­flicts.

Ini­tially called the Great War, the clash in­au­gu­rated a new era of global strug­gle for power as Bri­tain, France, Rus­sia and their al­lies fought Ger­many, Aus­tria-Hun­gary and the Ot­toman Empire start­ing in 1914. The United States joined what was dubbed “the war to end all wars” in 1917, help­ing to de­feat the Ger­man-led coali­tion by Novem­ber 1918. Tens of mil­lions were killed or wounded, al­though only a small frac­tion of them Amer­i­can.

The his­tor­i­cal mem­o­ries aside, the week­end will be watched to see whether Trump and Putin talk. Trump last month sent his na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, John Bolton, to Moscow to ar­range for a meet­ing be­tween the two lead­ers on the side­lines of the of­fi­cial events in Paris, but since then the two sides have is­sued con­fus­ing and con­flict­ing ac­counts of whether they will talk.

No of­fi­cial meet­ing is sched­uled and the two sides now say they will wait for a more for­mal ses­sion dur­ing an in­ter­na­tional sum­mit in Buenos Aires later this month. But the two will be in the same room to­gether for this week­end’s events and could speak in­for­mally.

TOM BREN­NER / THE NEW YORK TIMES

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and first lady Me­la­nia Trump will join other world lead­ers in France to mark the 100th an­niver­sary of the end of World War I.

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