U.S. President Donald Trump, under fire at home over Russian connections and abroad over climate change and trade, arrived in Paris on Thursday seeking common ground with France’s new leader Emmanuel Macron.
After a bumpy start to relations, the two men both have incentives to improve ties — Macron hoping to elevate France’s role in global affairs, and Trump, seemingly isolated among world leaders, needing a friend overseas.
Trump comes to France beset by allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. Emails released on Tuesday suggest his eldest son welcomed Russian help against his father’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
Weeks after Macron hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Palace of Versailles, Trump will bask in the trappings of the Bastille Day military parade on Friday and commemorations of the entry 100 years ago of U.S. troops into World War One.
Talks will focus on shared diplomatic and military endeavors, but an Elysee official said Macron would not shy away from trickier issues. Trump has made few friends in Europe with his rejection of the Paris accord on climate change and “America First” trade stance.
Macron’s aides say he does not want Trump to feel backed into a corner.
“What Emmanuel Macron wants to do is bring Trump back into the circle so that the United States, which remains the world’s number one power, is not excluded,” French government spokesman Christophe Castaner told BFM TV.
On his arrival in Paris, Trump headed straight to the U.S. ambassador’s residence where he will lunch with top U.S. military brass before meeting Macron at the Hotel des Invalides, a grand 17th century complex where Napoleon Bonaparte and other war heroes are buried.
They will later dine with their wives at a restaurant on the second floor of Paris’ Eiffel Tower. The Elysee official said the symbolism was clear: “Paris is still Paris.”
During the U.S. election campaign, Trump declared that a wave of militant attacks showed “France is no longer France”, urging the French to get tough on immigration and jihadists.