Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron returned to shake hands today and reaffirm their surprising friendship.
The French president, during the first state visit to Washington in the Trump era, will try to exert his influence so that the US can reduce the volume of its tariff war and allow the nuclear pact with Iran to survive.
Two objectives that, whatever their outcome, will not tarnish the main goal of the trip: to show the world that both leaders, above London and Berlin, have forged a privileged relationship.
It is a comfortable reunion. After the bombing on Syria, the nexus between Trump and Macron has been strengthened.
France was the most determined ally of the United States: They supported Trump from the start, he made Washington’s speech his own and believed without blinking in his intelligence reports. It was a sample of something already known. Between Trump, 71, and Macron, 40, there is something more.
“The friendship between our nations and ourselves is indestructible,” Trump said during the state visit he made last July to Paris. “Our personal relationship is very strong,” Macron riveted on Sunday in an interview on Fox.
That trip to the French capital came at a time similar to now. Trump, showing off his strident isolationism, had frightened the world by abandoning the Paris Agreement against climate change and threatened to break the nuclear pact with Iran. None of that muddied the meeting.
The two presidents broke up in gestures of friendship, with the odd challenge for the gallery, and nobody doubted that London was far away and that the intense relationship that Barack Obama had with the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, had been buried.
“Both presidents have developed a personal connection. They are two marginal who broke with the political establishment ; two disruptive personalities capable of transgressing, “says Celia Belin, an expert at the think tank Brookings Institution.
Now, again, the visit comes under the apparent pressure of an adverse agenda. On May 1st, the exemption decreed by Trump to apply to France, Germany and the United Kingdom, the increase of tariffs on steel and aluminum ends .
And on May 12th the deadline to renew the nuclear pact with Iran expires.
“I’m not satisfied with the situation in Iran. I want to put an end to the ballistic missiles and contain their influence in the region. My idea is to continue in the nuclear pact as long as we do not have a better option, and in the meantime complete it with ballistic containment, “the French president told Fox, aware that breaking the agreement would not only open a deep rift in the West, but also threatens another weapons spiral.
Iran, tariffs and even climate change form the basic script of the trip. But do not exhaust it. The visit, which started on Wednesday, has been designed to project the “great friendship” between both countries.
Bilateral meetings of the highest level, acts with the first ladies, state dinner, joint press conference and, above all, the speech that Macron will address before the Congress and that will coincide with the anniversary of April 25, April 1960 General Charles De Gaulle pronounced in the Capitol.
It will be an injection of grandeur to the highest degree.