jueves, 13 de julio de 2017

Trump and Macron go from mano a mano to tête-à-tête

U.S. President Donald Trump (left) and French President Emmanuel Macron (right) shake hand at the end of a press conference following meetings at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on July 13, 2017

The US and French presidents show affection — possibly too much affection — as Trump receives military honors in Paris.

Donald Trump’s first official visit to France was full of pomp and circumstance — but not political correctness.

As the U.S. president received full military honors and visited Napoleon’s tomb and the national army museum, his host, President Emmanuel Macron, was seen patting his wife, Brigitte, on the rear end. And Trump was later overheard on an official video telling Mme. Macron: “You are in such great shape,” then turning back to her and adding, “Beautiful!”

In the end, the question was not whether the affection between the Trumps and the Macrons was genuine, but if it was perhaps too genuine.

While little surprises anymore when it comes to Trump, the awkward moments provided a bizarre backdrop to a day on which the U.S. president also vigorously defended his son’s meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer, hinted that he might re-enter the Paris agreement on climate change, and suggested he was working to secure a broader cease-fire in Syria, after announcing a limited truce at the G20 summit in Germany last week.

Still, the overarching theme of the day was affection.

Macron and Trump, who began their relationship with a battle of handshakes that seemed to border on arm-wrestling, made a big, public show of their budding bromance, as Trump arrived in the French capital to attend official Bastille Day ceremonies and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the entry of U.S. troops into World War I.

If Trump seemed isolated at the G20, it was clear that he had nonetheless found a pal in Old Europe, to offset his tense relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Throughout the day, Macron and Trump touched each other’s arms, or put a hand on one another’s back. And they could be seen smiling and even laughing together repeatedly, in a sign of clear personal ease.

At their joint news conference, Trump waxed at length about the deep friendship and long alliance between France and the United States. He referred several times to the Marquis de Lafayette and French support for the American Revolution against the British. At one point, reaching out affectionately for Macron’s arm, he declared: “The friendship between our two nations — and ourselves, I might add — is unbreakable.”

It almost seemed as if the “special relationship,” so often boasted about by the U.K., had somehow been awarded to France as part of a Brexit divorce settlement.

The affection and good cheer persisted, even as journalists sought to draw Trump and Macron back to their sharp differences on environmental policy, such as Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, and also injected other unhappy subjects into an otherwise upbeat day, including the scandal swirling around the meeting between Trump’s son, Donald Jr., and a Russian lawyer.

In response, Trump gave a full-throated defense of his son, calling him “a wonderful young man” and insisting that he did nothing wrong, that “most people would have taken that meeting,” and that, anyway, nothing came of it in the end.

“My son is a wonderful young man,” Trump said. “He took a meeting with a Russian lawyer, not a government lawyer, but a Russian lawyer. It was a short meeting. It was a meeting that went very, very quickly, very fast.”

“Nothing happened from the meeting,” Trump declared. “Zero happened from the meeting.”

As he has often done in relation to the Russian investigations swirling around him, Trump on Thursday sought to draw in the Obama administration for criticism and culpability, saying he had been informed that the former attorney general, Loretta Lynch, had approved a visa that allowed the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, into the United States.

Macron deftly sidestepped offering any opinion on that matter, saying “I will not interfere in the U.S. domestic policy,” and drawing praise from Trump when he said “I think it’s always important … not to interfere in the other’s domestic life.”

In the end, Trump was in such good spirits that when pressed about the chasm between his view on climate change and Macron’s, the American president even hinted that he might re-enter the Paris climate agreement.

At their news conference, where the leaders expressed a shared commitment to fight terrorism, Trump also boasted of having negotiated a cease-fire in southwest Syria with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He said he was also working on another truce. “Frankly, we are working on a second cease-fire in a very rough part of Syria,” he said.

Notably, Trump also retracted his previous criticism of Paris, which he once said had fallen victim to a scourge of terrorism, saying everything would be OK in France now that Macron was president.

“You know what? It’s going to be just fine, because you have a great president,” Trump said. “You have somebody that is going to run this country right.”

“Paris is one of the great cities, one of the most beautiful cities in the world,” he continued. “You have a great leader now, a great president … So, I really am feeling that you are going to have a very very peaceful and beautiful Paris and I’m coming back.” Then turning to Macron, he added, “You better do a good job please, otherwise you are going to make me look very bad.”

As for the official program, Trump and Macron reviewed a military assembly and saluted each other’s national anthem, before touring the French national army museum at Les Invalides and Napoleon’s tomb.

They then spent two hours at the Elysée Palace discussing their common cause against terrorism, their differences on climate policy and their hopes for global trade.

The two men and their wives were due to end the day with dinner at Le Jules Verne, the restaurant in the Eiffel Tower, run by the celebrated chef Alain Ducasse.

No hay comentarios.:

Publicar un comentario