Monday 11 November 2019

US president Donald Trump enjoys Paris bromance with 'great' Emmanuel Macron

French president Emmanuel Macron, left, shakes hands with US president Donald Trump in Paris (Christophe Archambault/Pool via AP)
French president Emmanuel Macron, left, shakes hands with US president Donald Trump in Paris (Christophe Archambault/Pool via AP)
Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump next to a huge French flag at the Bastille Day parade in Paris (AP)

Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron put what looked like an unexpected bromance on display as the US president visited Paris for the Bastille Day military parade and celebration.

Mr Trump spent a large portion of his day and a half in the French capital in the embrace of the French president, who went to extraordinary lengths to impress him.

He turned a day of national pride into a celebration of American patriotism and friendship between the two countries. This year's Bastille Day event coincided with the 100th anniversary of the US entry into the First World War.

Mr Macron, in closing the parade, publicly thanked the US for coming to France's aid during the war, saying "nothing will ever separate us".

"The presence at my side of the president of the United States, Mr Donald Trump, and of his wife, is the sign of a friendship across the ages," he said.

At one point, Mr Trump declined an invitation to repeat his past criticism of Paris. He said the city's future is bright because France has a "great" and "tough" leader.

Mr Trump and Mr Macron exchanged many handshakes during the course of his first visit to France as president, perhaps none more telling than after the parade.

As the US president prepared to head home, the leaders clasped hands and held on to each other as they walked.

Mr Trump at one point pulled the smaller Mr Macron off balance and held fast as they approached their wives. Even then, Mr Trump held on to Mr Macron as he shook hands with his wife, Brigitte.

They appeared to have moved beyond a tense introduction in May, when a white-knuckle handshake that Mr Macron later said was meant to show he is no pushover was widely interpreted as a sign of fraught relations to come.

Mr Trump's brand of America First politics had unsettled some European allies. But the body language in Paris this week suggested their relationship has moved to a new level.

Both seemed to minimise differences in order to focus on areas where they can work together, such as the crisis in Syria and Middle East security.

Mr Trump returned the kindness of Mr Macron in a statement released as Air Force One flew back to the US. "America and France will never be defeated or divided," he said.

He added that it was his "high honour" to commemorate, on French soil, France's most historic day and the 100th anniversary of the entry of the United States into the First World War.

Despite major differences between the two leaders on such issues as climate change and trade, Mr Macron nonetheless carved out time to lead Mr Trump on a tour of the Les Invalides monument.

Mr Trump gave Mr Macron a lift to the French presidential palace in his armoured Cadillac limousine known as The Beast for their talks and a joint news conference.

They capped Thursday with a double dinner date with their wives at the famed Jules Verne restaurant in the Eiffel Tower.

His fawning extended to Brigitte Macron and her physical appearance.

"You know, you're in such good shape," he told the French leader's wife, before repeating his observation to her husband and adding "beautiful".

Yannick Mireur, a French political scientist, said Mr Macron went into the meeting with "a rather rare quality - that of empathy, interest in the person to try and understand him, to find the key to him".

Spencer Boyer, a former national intelligence officer for Europe and fellow at the Brookings Institution, said: "President Macron was highly skilled at putting President Trump at ease and avoiding any land mines that would have derailed the show of unity.

"Macron was especially adept at sidestepping questions about US political controversies, which Trump clearly appreciated."

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


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