Macron plants tree at White House during ‘state visit’

Macron plants tree at White House during 'state visit'

April 23 (UPI) — Fifteen months into his first term, President Donald Trump on Monday held the first official state visit of his presidency — from French President Emmanuel Macron.

Though Trump has hosted a number of foreign leaders at the White House since his inauguration, he hadn’t previously held an official state visit — denoted by the State Department as the highest-ranking visit to the United States in which a guest is offered a room for four days and three nights at Blair House, the president’s official guest house.

The “crown jewel” of the visit, a state dinner at the White House, is often a large production that is planned up to two to four months in advance.

The Macrons were greeted with a 21-gun salute as they arrived at the White House at about 5:24 p.m.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump greeted the French president and first lady Brigitte Macron with kisses before the four planted a tree, gifted by the Macrons, on the South Lawn of the White House.

Trump and Macron were each handed shovels as they piled dirt on top of the European Sessile Oak sapling, measuring 4.5 feet tall with an estimated age between 5 years old and 10 years old.

The Macrons and Trumps later depated for Mount Vernon for a private, official dinner, a tour of the grounds and a visit to the gravesite of former President George Washington.

“The setting will serve as a beautiful reminder of France’s unique status as America’s very first ally going all the way back to the American revolution,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said.

Trump and Macron likely discussed several issues, including the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Observers say Macron will likely make the case for Trump to stay in the deal, as a May 12 decision deadline looms.

In an interview with Fox News Sunday, Macron suggested it would be a mistake for Trump to withdraw from the pact — which lifts sanctions against Iran in exchange for a shutdown of Tehran’s nuclear weapons program.

“You cannot make a trade war with your allies,” Macron said. “It’s too complicated if you make war against everybody. You make trade war against China, trade war against Europe, war in Syria, war against Iran, it doesn’t work. You need allies.”

Since taking office, Trump been critical of the Obama-era deal — signed in 2015 by Iran, the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia — saying Tehran got “too much” from the deal for “far too little.”

Macron may also try to get assurances from Trump that the United States will not leave Syria until the Islamic State terror group is defeated.