PARIS President Trump and President Emmanuel Macron of France on Saturday tried to defuse the dwindling security and trade tensions as they opened a weekend visit to unveil a centuries-old transatlantic alliance at a time when it was growing seems to be frayed.
In the run-up to a ceremony celebrating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, Macron assured his visitor that his proposal to create a "true European army," in line with Mr Trump's repeated claim, is that Europe is not so much on it rely on the United States for their defense.
"I share President Trump's view that we need a better burden-sharing within NATO, and therefore I believe that my proposals for European defense are in complete agreement with this," said Mr. Macron with Mr. Trump at his side in the Élysée Palace ,
Mr Trump, who described the idea of a European army as "insulting", said he was glad to hear the French president's statement. "He understands that the United States can only do so much in fairness to the United States," said Trump.
The tensions on Saturday have shown how much the relationship between the two men has deteriorated in recent months. Mr. Macron greeted Mr. Trump on a dreary, dreary day in the Presidential Palace that suited the mood of the moment.
Their meeting seemed decidedly cooler than that Their warm Washington meeting in April, when they smiled broadly, hugged each other, kissed each other on the cheeks and praised each other.
On Saturday morning, the two politely tapped each other's arms and flicked their thumbs at cameras, but the lips-to-lips smile seemed tense and forced. During her brief appearance to reporters, Mr. Trump remained formal and distant. As he avoided spicy language in the five minutes the cameras were in, Mr. Macron seemed relieved and patted Mr. Trump's leg appreciatively.
"We have become very good friends in recent years," said Trump, but without the enthusiasm of last spring. "We have a lot in common in many ways – maybe more than people would understand. But we are – we are very similar in our views. "
Mr. Macron described Mr. Trump as "my good friend" and said that they "worked very closely together" to counter the use of chemical weapons by Syria. "Our people are very proud to have you here," he said.
The visit started on Friday when Mr. Trump posted a provocative message on Twitter, in which he attacked Mr. Macron just three minutes after Air Force One was launched at Orly Airport outside of Paris.
Answering this week's reports, Mr. Macron suggested that Europe must form its own army to defend itself against Russia, China and even the United States. Mr. Trump wrote: "Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should pay its fair share of NATO, which the US heavily subsidizes!"
The flap may have come from misleading reports of Mr. Macron's comments coming in French in an interview with Europe 1 Radio. When Mr Macron said that Europe needed to defend itself against the US as well as against Russia and China, he was referring to cyber threats, not to the American government. The discussion of a European army did indeed come up later in the interview, and he described it as part of the burden of the United States, not to fight back against it.
Nonetheless, in Mr. Trump's interview, Mr. Macron was critical of the fact that he had abolished the agreement on the conclusion of nuclear intermediaries with Russia, a three-decade-old agreement that would eliminate a whole class of missiles based in Europe and targeting Europe , The United States has accused Russia of breaching the treaty, and Mr. Trump's interest appears to be focused on whether such missiles could be useful to fend off China, but European leaders see it as a renewed threat to their own countries ,
"If I see President Trump announce that he is abandoning a major disarmament agreement that came into being after the 1980s euro missile crisis in Europe, who is the main victim?" Macron said in an interview. "Europe and its security."
Another key issue is Mr Trump's decision to re-impose sanctions on Iran after withdrawing from the multinational agreement aimed at restricting the country's nuclear program. The French want to continue doing business with Iran and reject the pressure of the Americans.
The Trump administration made exemptions to its sanctions for eight countries, but the European Union was not exempted. One of Mr. Macron's senior advisers complained of bullying in Washington. "Europe refuses to allow the US as a trade policeman in the world," said Bruno Le Maire, the Economics Minister of the Financial Times.
The two sides are also divided on wider trade issues. Mr Trump has struck steel and aluminum tariffs for Europe and other trading partners and has threatened tariffs for cars manufactured in Europe.
Mr Trump said the negotiations to facilitate the customs war are promising. "We have made great progress," he said. "We'll see if we can bring it across the line, as they say."
According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, Trump remains extremely unpopular in France, where only nine percent of people trust him to do the right thing in international affairs. Mr Macron, after trying to familiarize himself with Mr Trump, has shown signs of distancing himself in recent months.
In recent days, Macron warned of the dangers of nationalism and drew historical comparisons with the forces that devastated Europe in the 20th century. "I'm impressed by the similarity between the moment we live now and the time between the world wars," said Mr. Macron.
On the other hand, Mr. Trump proudly took over the "nationalist" label during the election campaign in autumn.
Mr. Trump has been on the ground for just 48 hours, but has the chance of several Events organized by Mr. Macron to work with other world leaders, including possibly President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia
Mr. Trump canceled the plans for a visit on Saturday American cemetery of Aisne-Marne at the foot of the hill on which the Battle of Belleau Wood was fought, citing bad weather that would make flying by helicopter difficult. He will attend a dinner hosted by Mr. Macron.
At a solemn ceremony in the woods outside the northern city of Compiègne, where the truce was signed on November 11, 1918, Mr. Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel stood in front of a memorial plaque celebrating peace and Franco-German friendship.
It was the first time that a German leader returned to the place where both the World War I and World War II truces were completed. Hitler had forced the defeated Frenchmen to return to the same railcar that was used for signing in 1918.
On Saturday, Mr. Macron and Mrs. Merkel got into a similar car that is now in a museum, and for a few moments, they were miserable side by side. The original was destroyed during the war, and Hitler's orders destroyed many parts of the site. The ceremony, simple but symbolic, was over in 45 minutes after the French and German national anthems were sung.
"The symbolism is that it's not just a question of military victory or military defeat, but also of friendship between France and Germany and that both sides have overcome this defeat," said Sylvain Fort. We overcame this defeat to build a friendship that lasted 70 years. "
On Sunday, some 70 world leaders gather for a ceremony in the Arc de Triomphe to commemorate the ceasefire that ended World War I at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. Afterwards they will have lunch and then go to the Suresnes American Cemetery in front of Paris.
Mr. Trump goes home in the afternoon and hops
the Paris Peace Forum. This meeting is being launched by Mr Macron to bring governments and private organizations together to improve international coordination and find ways to avoid the kind of tensions that led to the First World War and other conflicts.
"Trump's absence from the peace forum tomorrow, apparently alone among the 72 heads of state and government, will have a negative impact – the man who does not even pretend to work for peace," said François Heisbourg, chairman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a research organization.
Many in Paris watched as Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin talked. Mr. Trump sent his national security adviser, John R. Bolton, to Moscow last month to arrange a meeting between the two leaders in Paris, but since then both sides have resigned confusing and contradictory reports about whether they speak or not.
No official meeting is planned, and the two sides now say that they will be waiting for a more formal meeting during an international summit in Buenos Aires later this month. The two of them will be together in one room for the events this weekend and could speak informally.