Trump heads to Paris for Bastille Day

2017-07-12 10:04
US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel watch the Italian Air Force acrobatic squadron performing. (Luca Bruno, AP)

US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel watch the Italian Air Force acrobatic squadron performing. (Luca Bruno, AP)

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Washington – President Donald Trump and France's Emmanuel Macron may be the world's oddest of political odd couples. Far apart on climate change and immigration, the two leaders will look for common ground on terrorism and defence policy when they meet this week in Paris.

The president will be the guest of honour at this year's Bastille Day events – a celebration of French national pride at a time when, according to Macron, "our world has never been so divided".

The overseas trip comes as Trump is dogged by fresh controversy over his campaign's potential connections to Russia. Donald Trump Jr on Tuesday disclosed 2016 emails about his meeting with a Russian lawyer described to him as someone who was "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr Trump" in the campaign against Hillary Clinton.

The president has maintained that neither he nor members of his campaign colluded with the Russian government ahead of the 2016 election.

Macron, for his part, has come out strongly against Russia's purported efforts to interfere in elections in the US and across Europe. He has accused Moscow of working against his own campaign in support of his opponent, far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

The visit will gauge whether Trump and France's new leader can find consensus on any of the critical issues on which they find themselves deeply at odds.

Trump and Macron are scheduled to hold a joint news conference, during which Trump may face tough questions on the latest revelations about his son's contacts with a Russian lawyer. 

In the lead-up to what will be Trump's first official visit to France, the White House chose to highlight areas where the two leaders can collaborate, and said their differences could foster more constructive dialogue.

"Macron and the president have somewhat different views on how to achieve the end goal, but I think the end goal is the same," Trump's top economic adviser Gary Cohn said last week.

Macron's path to the presidency was nearly as unlikely as Trump's.

Rejecting ties with the French mainstream parties that had controlled the government since modern France began, he launched his own political movement just over a year ago and campaigned on pro-business and pro-European policies in direct counter to Le Pen.

"Both of these men were elected as outsiders and neither of them is really tied to their own national political establishments," said Benjamin Haddad, a Washington-based French political analyst with the Hudson Institute.

"That may actually work to their advantage."

Read more on:    emmanuel macron  |  donald trump  |  us  |  france  |  politics

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