WASHINGTON, D.C. — France will welcome U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump on Thursday and Friday as the country celebrates Bastille Day and honors America as its “national guest of honor” at the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I.
French President Emmanuel Macron personally invited Trump to France for the celebrations.
Trump and his wife left Wednesday night for Paris, France. Arriving on Thursday in Paris, President Trump will first travel to the U.S. Embassy where he and senior Trump administration officials will take part in a luncheon with U.S. military commanders who will participate in the next day’s events.
Those participating in the lunch will include Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford, Commander of U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Mike Scaparrotti, and Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville.
President Trump and the first lady will then travel to the Hotel Invalides where they will be greeted by President and Mrs. Macron. They will be given a tour of the tomb of Supreme Allied Commander at the end of World War I Marshal Foch, the French National War Museum, and the tomb of Napoleon.
President Trump will go on to hold a one-on-one private meeting with President Macron where the two are expected to share their perspectives on last week’s G20 meetings, according to a senior Trump Administration official. Afterward the two will bring in their senior advisors for a group session that is expected to focus on more formal agenda items. The meeting will be focused on Syria and counterterrorism topics. The meeting is scheduled to last an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes.
Reporters asked the official during a Tuesday briefing whether the topic of climate will be discussed, to which the official responded that President Macron could raise the issue and President Trump will be prepared if it does.
Trump and Macron will follow their meetings with a joint press conference and statements. The Trump administration official indicated on Tuesday that Trump is expected to mention the Islamic terror attack in Nice, France in his remarks.
Thursday evening the Trumps and Macrons will dine together privately.
Friday is Bastille Day and the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into WWI with the arrival of U.S. troops on French soil. President Trump and first lady Melania Trump will be honored in Bastille Day ceremonies on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées.
Every year French national troops will participate in the French National Day ceremonies. A senior Trump Administration official detailed on Tuesday:
This year will also feature participation by U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines from the Army’s 1st Infantry Division — of note because this was also the first U.S. unit to enter France and actually participated in the Bastille Day festivities in 1917 and was the first U.S. unit to go into combat — the 173rd Airborne Brigade, which is also based in Europe; the 10th Mountain Division; U.S. Army Europe’s 7th Army Training Command; sailors from U.S. Naval Forces Europe; airmen from U.S. Air Forces Europe; and Marines from U.S. Marine Forces Europe.
The U.S. Air Force demonstration team, the Thunderbirds, will also participate and conduct a fly-over during the ceremony. And there will be one U.S. naval aviator who will pilot a French Rafale fighter plane as part of the festivities. Three U.S. veterans of the Normandy invasion will also be present.
The official later responded to questions regarding the goal of the trip with a review of the importance of marking the 100th anniversary of the historic event. The official described the U.S. entry into the War as:
…an entry which was really decisive, historically. The French Army had sustained horrendous losses over three years of war; Russia had just fallen out of the war because of the Bolshevik Revolution, so a million German forces were being transferred to the Western Front. And so while we certainly didn’t win the war by ourselves, the American contribution was decisive in the outcome of the war.
Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters on Wednesday, “to commemorate 100th anniversary of U.S. entry into WWI, the people of France have designated America this year’s national guest of honor.”
Trump and Macron had several interactions at the G20 last week and while the two are holding a bilateral meeting during President Trump’s trip to France, the administration official indicated that the primary purpose of the trip is to commemorate the 100th anniversary.
After the French National Day Parade the President and first lady will make the return trip to the U.S. They will be traveling to Bedminster Trump National Golf Club in Somerset, New Jersey.
Macron is expected to follow the festivities with a trip to Nice, France on the one-year anniversary of the Islamic terror attack in that city. French authorities revealed after the attack that the terrorist planned the attack for months.
The senior Trump administration official also responded Tuesday to question of whether protests were expected in France during Trump’s visit. The official responded that it’s possible, but that Macron has indicated that he doesn’t expect anything in particular and nothing like last week’s G20 protests. Far left, anti-capitalist protesters came from beyond the borders of Germany to protest during the G20, set Hamburg ablaze, looted shops and left nearly 500 police officers injured.
“There are few allies that are closer that France,” the official said Tuesday before addressing a question regarding whether the administration would highlight “any parallels between World War I and any events that are going on in the world today?” The official affirmed that he expects President Trump to address that in his remarks, adding, “the fact that we participated in such a major way in World War I, side by side with the French, is a clear parallel to what we’re doing today. We still live in a dangerous world. We still live in a world that has many, many threats.”
The official continued:
The French were strong allies — so, with us in Afghanistan, in the Gulf War. There were with us in the Korean War, as well. So we have a long history — not always marching in lockstep, but real friends and real allies. And so there are clear parallels to our partnership and our alliances 100 years ago and today, no question about that. That’s a big part of why the President is going to be there this week.
The official also specified that the U.S. President is traveling with White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert. Gen. Dunford is expected to meet up with Trump in France.
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