US President Donald Trump has arrived in Paris for a meeting with France’s President Emmanuel Macron, his second trip in less than a week to Europe, where he is deeply unpopular. Trump arrived on Thursday after an overnight flight from Washington ahead of Bastille Day celebrations in Paris.
The invitation by France’s recently-elected president may give Trump a brief respite from his domestic and international woes, amid ongoing criticism at home over his alleged Russian connections and foreign isolation over his nationalistic, “America first” policy.
Trump and Macron appear to have little in common, with different views on everything from globalization to immigration. At 39, Macron is France’s youngest president since Napoleon. By contrast, the 71-year-old Trump is the oldest person ever elected to the White House.
“The meeting won’t avoid subjects on which we have different positions, such as climate and, to a certain extent, trade,” an Elysee official said. The trip comes despite Trump’s unpopularity in France and across Europe. Anti-Trump protests are planned while he is in Paris. Trump’s decision last month to withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement sparked outrage across Europe.
London’s offer of a state visit for Trump has been met fierce criticism and warnings that he would be greeted by mass protests in the UK. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also expressed public disdain for Trump.
European leaders are wondering how best to handle Trump, whose nationalist stance has damaged transatlantic relations. The United States, under Trump, was isolated on everything from trade to climate change during last week’s annual G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.
Macron hopes to build a relationship with Trump that would, at a minimum, prevent further political strains between the EU and Washington. The French appear to be expressing their indifference over the visit of the US president as one more controversial American leader, just as they did with former President George W. Bush, whose 2003 decision to invade Iraq hurt ties with France and Germany.
At home, Trump is struggling with a deepening scandal over alleged Russian efforts to help him defeat former presidential candidate in last year’s White House race. The scandal has now entangled his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, who on Tuesday released emails showing he embraced Russia’s efforts to support his father’s presidential campaign, and admitting he would “love” to get dirt from Moscow on Clinton.
Trump on Wednesday defended his son, praising his “transparency” for releasing the email chain and again condemning the investigation about whether Moscow helped him win the White House last November.