Saturday 21 April 2018

Macron gets to grips with US president on climate change deal

US President Donald Trump shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron before the Nato summit in Brussels yesterday. Photo: Reuters/Peter Dejong
US President Donald Trump shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron before the Nato summit in Brussels yesterday. Photo: Reuters/Peter Dejong

Marine Pennetier in Brussels

French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday urged Donald Trump not to take any hasty decisions on a global climate change deal that the US president threatened during his election campaign to abandon.

Mr Macron and Mr Trump also discussed the Syrian crisis, counter-terrorism and defence spending over lunch at the US ambassador's residence in Brussels, their first meeting since Mr Macron was elected on May 7 after a turbulent campaign.

Mr Macron, a centrist, described their conversation as warm and pragmatic but also said it had been "extremely direct and very frank", acknowledging there were subjects where the two leaders did not necessarily see eye-to-eye.

French diplomats had said beforehand that Mr Macron would use the meeting to try to convince Mr Trump to stick to a global deal to combat climate change.

Mr Trump, who doubts climate change is human-made and made a campaign pledge to "cancel" the 2015 Paris Agreement, has postponed a planned decision on whether to stay or leave that had been due before the May 26-27 summit in Italy.

Mr Macron said he respected Mr Trump's decision to put the Paris agreements under review. "I reminded him of the importance these agreements have for us," Mr Macron said, adding that the pact was also important for job creation and economic development. "My wish in any case is that there should be no hasty decision on this subject by the United States because it is our collective responsibility to retain the global nature of this pledge, which was a first," Mr Macron told reporters.

On the Syrian conflict, Mr Macron said he hoped all parties to the conflict could agree to create a diplomatic roadmap to a settlement, "and I think that he [Trump] shares this view."

When the two leaders met, Mr Trump was fulsome in his congratulations on Mr Macron's election victory over far-right leader Marine Le Pen, saying he had run "an incredible campaign and had a tremendous victory".

Although the two men barely know each other, they seemed to have a hard time letting go when they first met. Each man gripped each other's right hand so firmly that their knuckles turned white and their jaws seemed to clench. When Nato leaders greeted Mr Macron at the new alliance headquarters later, Mr Macron pointedly headed straight for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, embracing her and shaking the hand of Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg before another muscular handshake with Mr Trump. Meanwhile, in a stinging rebuke to Mr Trump, a US Appeals Court refused yesterday to reinstate his temporary travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority nations, delivering another blow to the White House in a legal battle which is likely to head to the Supreme Court. The decision described Mr Trump's executive order in forceful terms, saying it uses "vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination."

Irish Independent

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