Trump Downplays Differences with France on Climate Change

Diplomacy | July 14, 2017, Friday // 07:10|  views

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The US president, Donald Trump, has begun a visit to Paris, greeted with military fanfare as the French leader, Emmanuel Macron, showed him Napoleon’s tomb before they held talks on Syria and counter-terrorism, according to the Guardian.

The two leaders appeared keen to set aside their differences on climate change as they asserted their intention to work together on Syria and other matters.

Standing alongside Macron at a news conference, Trump said that the two countries have had “occasional disagreements” but that would not disrupt a friendship that dates back to the American Revolution.

He was non-committal on the possibility of the US rejoining the Paris climate agreement, telling Macron: “If it happens that will be wonderful, and if it doesn’t that will be OK too.”

Macron acknowledged the two leaders’ differences on the climate pact but said they would find other areas of cooperation. “Should that have an impact on the discussions we’re having on all other topics? No, absolutely not,” he said.

After landing in Paris early on Thursday morning, Trump began his visit by honouring American first world war veterans in a ceremony at the US embassy to mark 100 years since the US joined the conflict, while Macron was engaged in a separate meeting with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel.

The US president then arrived at the vast, historic military complex at Les Invalides, built by the Sun King Louis XIV, where he was met with a large French army reception and joined Macron in inspecting the troops.

Trump will spend 24 hours in Paris, as a guest of honour at Friday’s Bastille day celebrations.

The two leaders spent more than an hour at the Élysée Palace in talks where the key topics included Syria, Iraq, counter-terrorism and also possible financial support for French anti-jihadi military operations in Africa.

In hosting Trump for 24 hours, Macron’s strategy is to set up a kind of of persuasive bridge-building. When the two leaders first met in May, the French president publicly asserted his superiority by crunching Trump’s knuckles and later rebuked him for pulling the US out of the Paris climate accord, but the tone has now shifted.

Observing the US president’s increasing isolation on the western stage, Macron has sensed an opportunity to reach out. Christophe Castaner, a government minister and spokesman, described it as “offering a hand” to bring Trump “back into the circle”. French diplomats said Macron had been concerned about Trump feeling backed into a corner.

The French leader has seen a potential opportunity to sway US thinking and elevate the role of France – a nuclear power and permanent member of the UN security council – in global affairs, in particular on Syria and the Middle East.

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Tags: Middle East, Syria, France, Angela Merkel, climate change, Emmanuel Macron, Donald Trump, visit


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