Watch Live: President Trump And French President Macron Hold Joint Press Conference
UPDATE (8:45 a.m. PT) — President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron will field questions from reporters on Tuesday, in between talks on the Iran nuclear deal and a lavish state dinner.
Macron is the first of two European leaders Trump is hosting this week. German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be in Washington, D.C., on Friday. Both France and Germany joined the U.S. in a six-nation pact with Iran to halt its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. Trump has threatened to pull the U.S. out of that deal. Macron and Merkel want him to stay in.
Trump’s former advisers struggled to make the case for the nuclear deal, and the newest members of Trump’s national security team are as skeptical of the agreement as he is.
“People know my views on the Iran deal. It was a terrible deal. It should have never, ever been made,” Trump said Tuesday during an Oval Office photo opportunity with Macron. “It’s insane. It’s ridiculous. It should have never been made, but we will be talking about it.”
Macron argues the nuclear agreement is worth preserving.
“We have a common objective, we want to make sure there’s no escalation and no nuclear proliferation in the region. We now need to find the right path forward,” Macron said, through an interpreter.
Macron has skillfully courted Trump, inviting the U.S. president to be his guest last year at an elaborate military parade marking Bastille Day in Paris. Trump was so impressed, he ordered his own military parade this November, marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
The two presidents and their wives celebrated the wartime alliance between the U.S. and France on Monday by planting an oak tree on the South Lawn of the White House. The sapling comes from Belleau Wood, where more than 9,000 Marines died in the final months of the first world war, according to a White House statement.
Later, the two couples took a sightseeing helicopter tour of Washington, then held a private dinner at George Washington’s historic Mt. Vernon estate.
Despite their evident personal chemistry, Trump and Macron have significant policy differences to discuss. In addition to the Iran nuclear deal, Macron wants a permanent exemption from the president’s new steel and aluminum tariffs. And he’d like to see a more lasting commitment from the U.S. to stabilization efforts in Syria. Military forces from France and the U.K. joined the U.S. in launching air strikes on Syria earlier this month in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack. But Trump is impatient to withdraw U.S. troops from that country as quickly as possible.
“What you do have are two leaders who have a great deal of respect for one another, who have a great friendship,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders. She added that friendship allows the two men to have “very open and candid conversations.”
Sanders said she expects “a very productive and very positive state visit for both countries.”
The visit will be marked by the first state dinner of the Trump administration. The White House has been decorated for the event with cherry blossoms, sweet peas and white lilacs. The menu is American with French influences: spring lamb and jambalaya.
On Wednesday, Macron is set to address a joint session of Congress. [Copyright 2018 NPR]