President Trump Hosts French President for First State Visit

Marwa Hameed

On the 24th of April, President Trump and the First Lady welcomed French President, Emmanuel Macron, and his wife, Brigitte, in a formal ceremony on the south lawn of the White House. This marked the Trump administration’s first state visit, with Trump having visited France to mark the Bastille Day celebrations in July of last year. The arrival ceremony, which included a 21-gun salute a review of 500 troops from the five branches of the military and the planting of an oak tree, included remarks from both leaders. President Trump spoke warmly of his French counterpart saying, “truly fitting that we are holding our first official state visit with the leader of America’s oldest ally, the proud nation of France.” Macron returned the sentiment thanking the President “for honoring France and the Franco-American friendship.” He did not shy away from pushing keys things on his agenda, including the Iran Nuclear Deal, keeping American troops in Syria, and the exemption of European countries from steel and aluminum tariffs.

At the White House Press conference later on in the visit, Trump and Macron discussed the many topics they seemed to be split on. The President appeared to agree with President Macron’s push for continued U.S. presence in Syria, but he made the case for more distant presence, saying that U.S. troops will be coming home, but he wants “to leave a strong and lasting footprint.” Macron discussed Iran, in what is seen as one of the main objectives his trip, as he tried to persuade Trump to stay in the Iran accord that the United States agreed upon in 2015. President Trump is wary of the plan and skeptical of its success, having discussed the idea of pulling out by the May 12th deadline he set, much to the dismay of Macron who, when addressing Congress, pointed out that “there is [already] an existing framework” that deals with Iran’s nuclear ambitions that everyone signed at “the initiative of the United States.” Although, Trump ended the press conference on a hopeful note, telling the media gathered that leaders “have to be flexible and show flexibility.” Another issue that Macron highlighted when addressing Congress was climate change. “By polluting the oceans, not mitigating CO2 emissions and destroying our biodiversity we are killing our planet,” he said. “Let us face it,” Macron said, “there is no planet B.” President Trump pulled out of the Paris climate accord back in June of 2017 and Macron stated near the closing of his speech that he is confident the United States “will come back and join the Paris agreement.”

The highlight of the visit was the state dinner at the White House on Tuesday night, where more than 130 guests enjoyed a fine dinner and a performance by the Washington National Opera. President Trump gave a toast hailing the strong Franco-American bond by saying, “May our friendship grow even deeper, may our kinship grow even stronger and may our sacred liberty never die.” The day before, the Trumps and Macrons helped to plant an oak tree, an ecological gift from President Macron, on the White House lawn. The oak tree holds a symbolic meaning as it came from the World War I site of the Battle of Belleau Wood that has become a part of Marine Corps lore. Afterwards, the couples boarded Marine One to Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, where they had a relaxed dinner, and a welcome break from the formalities and talks of the day.

President Trump concluded his first year in office without formally receiving any world leader on a state visit, marking the first time that has happened in nearly 100 years. The state visit ended with comprises being made on both sides with President Macron having been said to leave Washington assured as he was able to work together with President Trump to discuss the issues on the forefront of not only France’s agenda, but Europe’s as well. In what has been dubbed ‘Le Bromance’ by the media, the two leaders ended the trip on a very affectionate note with Trump remarking that he liked President Macron a lot, and Macron reciprocating the sentiment commenting that, “I got to know you and you got to know me.”  As the global stage continues to be entangled in a web of turbulent matters, the state visit was key to strengthening the continued alliance of the United States and France, and as President Macron stated at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, “History is calling us. It is urging our people to find the fortitude that has guided us in the most difficult of times.”