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Tariffs, Trade, Terrorism, Syria, Iran on the Table for Trump and Macron Bilateral Meetings

US President Donald Trump, right, and France's Emmanuel Macron talk regularly, have shared memorable handshakes and claim an "unbreakable" friendship
AFP
Washington, DC

U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron are expected to tackle controversial topics from trade to terrorism during the first state visit of the Trump administration.

Trump and Macron will discuss economic, diplomatic, and global issues during the state visit, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders informed reporters on Monday.

“The first lady has taken an active role in every detail and planning of the visit including the State Dinner which will be held tomorrow evening,” said Sanders. “We are looking forward to a very successful state visit.”

A senior administration official expressed in a briefing last Friday that President Trump has been “eager to host the Macrons for this special event as he remembers fondly the dinner the couples shared together in the Eiffel Tower on the eve of Bastille Day last July 2017.”

On Tuesday the two Presidents will meet privately in a one-on-one Oval Office meeting before holding an expanded, working, bilateral meeting with the French and U.S. delegations, according to the senior administration official.

This expanded meeting is to include U.S. officials Vice President Mike Pence, the Acting Secretary of State, Secretary of Treasury, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Commerce, White House Chief of Staff, National Security Advisor, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, and U.S. Ambassador to France Jamie McCourt.

The French delegation is expected to include their Minister of Foreign affairs, Minister of Economics and Finance, Minister of Defense, National Security Advisor, and others.

Presidents Trump and Macron will hold a joint press conference on Tuesday. 

During Friday’s briefing, the senior administration official indicated that Trump and Macron would travel to Arlington Cemetery for a wreath laying ceremony before the Tuesday evening State Dinner at the White House.

On Wednesday, President Macron will address a joint session of Congress. The administration official noted that the day marks the 58th anniversary of then-President of France Charles de Gaulle’s 1960 address to Congress.

The senior administration official laid out three themes for the state visit. First: “The United States and France enjoy a long and enduring friendship.” Second: “France is a valued trade and investment partner.” Third: “France is a strong and reliable ally.” On the third point, the official added that the U.S. has worked with France to “combat terror around the world.”

Terror was top of mind during the Trumps’ visit to France last year for Bastille Day celebrations, where the United States was honored as “national guest of honor” on the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I. The 2016 visit came just one year after an Islamic terror attack on Bastille Day celebrations in Nice, France.

The official emphasized that the visit would celebrate the 100th anniversary year of the end of World War I and that “The United States’ is the third largest trading partner in Europe, and averages over $1 billion in commercial transactions every day.”

Trump and Macron’s discussions will include, according to the official: 

…recent joint operations in Syria in response to the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons on April 7th; broader issues relating to Syria and the Middle East — these would include Iran’s malign influence in the region; and also France’s leading role in NATO and in global counterterrorism operations more generally, including in the Sahel, where France takes the leading role.

Potential U.S. tariffs on European goods are expected to be on the list of discussion topics for the expanded bilateral meeting, according to the official. The Iran nuclear deal is also expected to come up. Collaborating on pushing back against certain Chinese economic practices is also on the table.

On Monday evening, the Presidents and their wives met at the White House, where they participated in a ceremonial planting of a tree the Macron’s gifted to the Trumps. The tree is a “European Sessile Oak that measures approximately 4.5 feet tall with an estimated age between 5-10 years old,” according to the White House. It has historic significance, as the tree came from Belleau Woods, a site of the United States’ engagement in WWI and where “over 9,000 American marines died in the Belleau Wood battle in June 1918.”

The couple then traveled together on Marine One to tour historic monuments in Washington before landing at President George Washington’s home at Mt. Vernon. There they enjoyed a private tour and couples dinner. After dinner, first lady Melania Trump presented a preview of the state dinner that will take place on Tuesday night. The first lady has designed Tuesday’s state dinner to “complement and pay homage to the long-standing friendship between the United States and France.”

Tuesday night’s state dinner will open with a traditional military arrival ceremony employing nearly 500 military service members and a “Review of the Troops” on the south lawn of the White House. The first couples will dine alongside guests from cabinet secretaries to school kids who will enjoy “the best of America’s cuisines and traditions, with nuances of French influences” on china acquired under the Bush 43 and Clinton administrations. The main course will be spring lamb. Adorned in thousands of white sweet peas, lilac and cherry blossoms, the event will feature the Washington National Opera.

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana 

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