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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

What to expect from Macron visit to the United Sates


The visit, which starts Monday evening and ends on Wednesday, has been designed to project the "great friendship" between the two countries. Bilateral meetings of the highest level, acts with the first ladies, state dinner, joint press conference and, above all, the speech to be delivered by Macron to Congress are highly awaited.

Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron will come back today and reaffirm their surprising friendship. The French president, during the first state visit to Washington in the Trump era, will try to exert his influence so that the US can reduce the volume of its tariff war and allow the nuclear pact with Iran to survive. Two objectives that, whatever their outcome, will not tarnish the main goal of the trip: to show the world that both leaders, above London and Berlin, have forged a privileged relationship that allows them to breathe together in different universes.

After the bombing to Syria, the nexus between Trump and Macron has been strengthened. France was the most determined ally of the United States. He supported him from the start, made the Washington speech his own and believed without blinking in the intelligence reports. It was a sample of something already known. Between Trump, 71, and Macron, 40, there is something more than tuning. "The friendship between our nations and ourselves is indestructible," Trump said during his state visit to Paris in July. "Nothing will separate us," Macron riveted then. Sound like a love story to you?

That trip to the French capital came at a time like now. Trump, showing off his strident isolationism, had frightened the world by abandoning the Paris Agreement against climate change and threatened to break the nuclear pact with Iran. None of that muddied the meeting. The two presidents broke up in gestures of friendship, with the odd challenge for the gallery, and nobody doubted that London was far away and that the intense relationship that Barack Obama had with the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, had been buried. "Both presidents have developed a personal connection.

They are two marginal who broke with the political establishment; two disruptive personalities capable of transgressing, "says Celia Belin, an expert at the think tank Brookings Institution. Now, again, the visit comes under the pressure of an adverse agenda. On May 1, the exemption decreed by Trump to apply to France, Germany and the United Kingdom the increase of tariffs on steel and aluminum ends. And on May 12 the deadline for the renewal of the nuclear pact with Iran expires, whose rupture will not only open a deep fissure in the West but threatens to push the Middle East towards another spiral of arms.

“French diplomacy, which had bad experience with Bush and Obama, is pragmatic and prefers to be close to far. Washington's new policy advocates less interventionism (really?) in other countries, and that fits in with the French vision, where exceptionalism and confidence in nuclear deterrence remain strong”, says Belin. We are close to witness how the visit will end.