Washington (AFP) – French President Emmanuel Macron hopes an oak sapling that he will give his American counterpart Donald Trump next week will be planted at the White House as a symbol of lasting friendship, he told Fox News on Friday.
Macron, who arrives in Washington Monday for a state visit while transatlantic tensions persist over trade, Syria and Iran, said he was mindful of how France was the first international ally of American revolutionaries during their war for independence.
“He said that the gift he is bringing with him to the state visit in Washington is part of a tree — I think a seedling in effect — from an oak tree in northern France, that he hopes will be planted on the grounds of the White House to symbolize the enduring friendship,” Fox’s Chris Wallace said after interviewing Macron.
The White House grounds are among the oldest continually maintained ornamental landscapes in the United States, and feature a wide range of trees, flowers and bushes that reflect the changing seasons.
An iconic 200-year-old magnolia tree planted by president Andrew Jackson was deemed too damaged to remain in place and major portions of the tree were removed in December.
The French leader arrives during a period of mounting legal woes for the US president. FBI agents raided his personal lawyer’s offices, and former FBI boss James Comey published a tell-all book depicting Trump pressuring him over the probe into his campaign’s links to Russia before firing him.
But Macron, speaking in a sit-down interview with Wallace at the Elysee Palace in Paris, stressed he was not interested in weighing in on the scandals. He said he would not “judge” Trump over the investigations or other controversies.
The interview airs Sunday on Fox.