France’s President Emmanuel Macron greeted President Donald Trump with a French peck on the cheek Monday as the U.S. leader welcomed him to the White House.
He and his wife Brigitte were greeted by the Trumps outside the West Wing to start the first state visit of the presidency, which will feature Melania’s first lavish state dinner Tuesday.
Trump and Macron had competed with power handshakes at previous meetings, but this time it was the visitor who disarmed his U.S. counterpart with a traditional Gallic greeting.
Melania Trump, who briefly lived in Paris, seemed more comfortable with the greeting, and also embraced Brigitte Macron.
The warm reception came after a red-carpet greeting for the French first couple at Joint Base Andrews, and an impromptu walkabout in the spring sunshine that took them to the Lincoln Memorial.
The French first couple arrived at Andrews mid-day Monday to the playing of both the French national anthem and then the American one.
‘This is a great honor and I think a very important state visit given the moment of our current environment,’ Macron said as he briefly spoke to reporters outside the plane, first conversing with the crowd in English and then in French.
Very French greeting: Emmanuel macron leaned in to kiss Donald Trump on the left cheek as the U.S. president greeted him at the White House
Family greeting: Emmanuel Macron kept his arm on Trump’s elbow as he greeted Melania Trump with another kiss
Thumbs up: Macron channeled the president as he posed on the steps of the White House with his wife Brigitte, the president and the first lady
The couple then took a motorcade into Washington, D.C., and were spotted walking around downtown, just blocks from the White House.
‘Before our first work meetings, let’s have a walk on Washington’s streets,’ the French president tweeted.
The Macrons then walked south and were seen taking in the Lincoln Memorial.
The couple were boarding board Marine One for a short helicopter ride to George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate.
Then on Tuesday, a grand ceremony will take place on the South Lawn of the White House as President Macron and President Trump hold formal talks.
The two leaders have formed an unlikely friendship with Trump bonding with his fellow political novice.
French President Emmanuel Macron (right) holds hands with his wife Brigitte (left) as the French and American national anthems play at the arrival ceremony at Joint Base Andrews
The couple arrived just after 1:30 pm at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, where they received a red-carpet welcome
Welcome to America: The French president and his wife received a bouquet each of purple flowers, tied with red, white and blue ribbon
Monday afternoon, Brigitte Macron (left) and President Emmanuel Macron (right) took a walk to the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
The first couple of France kicked off their three-day trip to Washington by looking at some of the sites, including the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall
The first lady of France Brigitte Marcon (right) greets a member of the public at the Lincoln Memorial, as she and French President Emmanuel Macron tour Washington Monday afternoon
The French first couple decided to take a walk around Washington upon their arrival for a three-day trip to the Unites States. Tonight they’ll go to dinner at Mount Vernon with President Trump and first lady Melania Trump
Mrs. Macron and other officials watch as the French president delivers remarks after landing in Washington
The Macrons listen to the French and American national anthems play at the arrival ceremony at Joint Base Andrews
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during Monday’s welcoming ceremony at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland
French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron listen to the U.S. National Anthem at Joint Base Andrews as they arrive in the United States for President Trump’s first state dinner
French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte are photographed getting off their plane Monday at Andrews Air Force base in Maryland
Brigitte Macron wore a pink coat for the arrival in Washington, where it was 66 degrees on Monday afternoon
Brigitte Macron arrives in the U.S. wearing sky-high black high heels and a Barbie-pink coat. The first couple of France will attend a dinner at Mount Vernon with the Trumps tonight
French President Emmanuel Macron (third from left) and his wife Brigitte Macron (right) board their limousine as they arrive in the United States Monday for the Trump administration’s first state dinner
Roll out the red carpet! Members of the military prepare for Macron to land just outside of Washington
Donald and Melania Trump will entertain their French counterparts at a special dinner this evening at the estate that belonged to America’s first president, George Washington
Tonight the couples will dine at Mount Vernon after a helicopter ride over Washington to Virginia
The Trumps will receive the Macrons at the North Portico, in a low-key welcome to the White House for the leader who has developed an unlikely friendship with Trump, a fellow political novice
Trump and Macron have bonded in the year since the French president was elected despite major ideological differences that are most apparent in their approaches to international issues like the climate and tariffs.
They don’t see eye-to-eye on taming Iran, either, and the long-term role of the U.S. in Syria.
The two presidents have formed a partnership to confront brutal dictators and terrorist groups, though, as reflected in their recent assault on Bashar al-Assad after he violated human rights norms with his use of chemical weapons.
Their buddy act is drawing comparisons to the ‘special relationship’ to the U.S. has traditionally had with Great Britain, which joined in the strikes fewer than two weeks ago Assad’s chemical weapons facilities in Syria.
President Trump has not visited Britain’s Theresa May in London, putting off or outright cancelling expected trips. A new one is on the books for this summer, officials on both sides of the alliance said last week, but a date has not been locked in.
The president and first lady meanwhile spent two days in Paris last July and were the Macrons guests of honor at the annual Bastille Day parade that celebrates France’s independence.
In the City of Lights, Macron welcomed Trump with a military band as Les Invalides, a military museum and monument, and took him to a five-star dinner inside the Eiffel Tower.
They ended the visit, during which Trump told Macron’s 64-year-old wife, ‘You’re in such good shape,’ with an effusive display of hugging, hand-yanking and back slapping.
Their long goodbye was reminiscent of an earlier hand shake, at their first face-to-face in Brussels in May, that was the very definition of a grip-and-grin.
Recalling the handshake in an interview with Fox News that aired on the network Sunday, Macron said it was actually ‘a very friendly moment.’
‘Seeing Prime Minister Abe and some of the different victims – I resisted,’ he admitted. ‘But in fact, I mean, it was — it was a very natural moment, I have to say. And a very friendly moment. Don’t worry.’
He said that he and Trump had developed a ‘strong personal relation’ based on their interactions, including the trip to Paris for Bastille Day.
‘We have a very special relationship because both of us are probably the maverick of the systems on both sides. I think President Trump’s election was unexpected in your country and probably my election was unexpected in my country. And we are not part of the classical political system,’ he said.
Macron also told Fox, ‘I think we are very much in line on some very critical issues of this world—and especially counter terrorism and fight against ISIS.’
A senior U.S. official said Friday that this week’s festivities in Washington are ‘something of a celebration of the relationship.’
‘I think it’s indicative of a desire to continue to forge a close relationship, a stronger relationship, a relationship that’s already very strong, I think — among the strongest that we have of any allies and partners in the world,’ the official said.
However, the senior Trump administration official also predicted that there would be ‘a full and free airing of points of view’ on global issues during their talks this week, ‘many of which we feel are pretty closely aligned France, and then a few which may not be as tightly aligned.’
‘But more than anything, I think what the President would like to hear from President Macron is his counsel and his point of view and his perspective, the official said.
The Iran nuclear deal that the Obama administration spearheaded with France, the U.K., China, Germany and Russia was a sticking point heading into the negotiations.
Trump says he’ll end U.S. participation in the agreement unless Europe agrees to toughen it up. He faces a May 12 deadline to make a final decision.
Macron emphasized in his interview with Fox that the agreement is not ‘perfect,’ but he asked, ‘What do you have? As a better option? I don’t see it.’
‘So that’s a question we will discuss, but that’s why I just want to say, on nuclear — let’s present this framework because it’s better than the sort of North Korean type of situation,’ he said. ‘I’m not satisfied with the situation with Iran. I want to fight against ballistic missiles, I want to contain their influence in the region.’
Macron and Trump also have conflicting opinions about a continued U.S. presence in Syria.
Before Assad’s chemical weapons attack, Trump declared: ‘We’ll be coming out of Syria like very soon. Let the other people take care of it now.’
He was slow-walking a troop withdraw as of this month, and Macron gave himself credit.
‘Ten days ago, President Trump said the USA’s will is to disengage from Syria. We convinced him that it was necessary to stay,’ he boasted.
In the interview with Fox the French president clarified that he was referring broadly to U.S. involvement in the war-torn country.
‘We will have to build a new Syria after war. And that’s why I think the U.S. role is very important to play,’ he said. ‘The day we will have finished this war against ISIS, if we leave, definitely and totally, even from a political point of view, we will leave the floor to the Iranian regime, Bashar al-Assad and these guys. And they will prepare the new war. They will fuel the new terrorists.’
Trade was another critical topic heading into this week’s meetings between French and American officials. Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum will go into effect on May 1, unless the U.S. comes to an agreement of some sort with the European Union.
Macron suggested in the Sunday special on Fox that Trump could ultimately back down, telling host Chris Wallace, ‘He says exemptions ‘til May 1st. Let’s see what he will decide on May 1st. I just say, where are your priorities?’
‘You don’t-you don’t make trade war with your allies,’ he said.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders declined to comment on the agenda for tomorrow’s meetings at her daily press briefing on Monday, saying she did not want to preempt the leaders’ conversation.
She dealt a blow to Macron as a reporter asked her whether Trump would keep an ‘open mind’ on trade, tariffs, Iran and even the Paris climate agreement that he said the U.S. would exit last year as soon as the option becomes available.
‘I feel very confident that we have the best negotiator at the table,’ Sanders responded.
Trump’s spokeswoman was immediately confronted about the superior tone she seemed to take.
‘Let me finish. That’s not what I said. I said that we have a great negotiator at the table,’ she rebutted. ‘I certainly was not commenting on President Macron’s abilities; simply stating the obvious: that we have an incredibly good negotiator at the table for the United States.’
The first lady’s office has been overseeing the state dinner that comes much later in Trump’s tenure than his predecessors’
The Clinton China rests on a table as First Lady Laura Bush gives the press a preview of the dining room for the State Dinner in honor of Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visit to the White House in 2006. First Lady Melania Trump has also selected the Clinton China for her event
First Lady Melania Trump says she spent Sunday making sure the White House was in tip-top shape for the Macrons’ arrival
The president and first lady meanwhile spent two days in Paris last July and were the Macrons guests of honor at the annual Bastille Day parade that celebrates France’s independence. Trump and Marcon are seen at Elysee Palace in July
France’s president Emmanuel Macron (L) and US President Donald Trump shake hands before a meeting at the Palace Hotel during the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 18, 2017, in New York
The Macrons are not arriving to the White House empty-handed. They’re bringing a sapling European Sessile Oak, the first lady’s office says, that is approximately 4.5 feet tall and between 5-10 years old.
Alongside the Trumps, they will will plant the tree that comes from Belleau Woods, a landmark tied to the United States’ entry into World War, before their dinnertime departure to Mount Vernon.
Tomorrow morning the White House says that 500 members of the military from five branches will be on the South Lawn for a ‘Review of the Troops’ when the Macrons arrive.
Cabinet secretaries, Members of Congress and military families will be present, in addition to students from Maya Angelou French Immersion School of Temple Hills, Maryland.
Presidents Macron and Trump will hold bilateral talks on Tuesday morning and appear side-by-side at a joint news conference after. A state dinner is to follow that Politico says will have 150 guests.
Democrats and members of the media are getting the short shrift this year. Neither were invited to the meal that’s taking place in the White House’s State Dining Room, aside from Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards.
A scaled-down affair, Trump’s first state dinner will not take place under the cover of tents set up on the South Lawn that were a hallmark of Barack Obama’s dinners.
The parade of celebrities who came to those formal affairs is expected to be all but non-existent.
A guest list has not been released yet for Tuesday’s dinner.
House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office confirmed to DailyMail.com that he would be in attendance.
Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis are also planning to attend, Fox News reported.
The Washington National Opera will provide the evening’s entertainment.
The first lady’s office has been overseeing the state dinner that comes much later in Trump’s tenure than his predecessors’.
Barack Obama and George W. Bush held state dinners in November and September, respectively, the first year of their presidencies.
France is getting its turn earlier under Trump than it did under either previous American president, with the last two coming in 2007 and 2014.
First lady Melania Trump highlighted the work her office has done to make her husband’s first state dinner a reality in a morning tweet that said: ‘After months of preparations, @POTUS and I are looking forward to hosting our first State Dinner with France! Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to make this visit a success.’
The first lady’s office said Monday that the menu for Tuesday’s dinner would consist of: Goat Cheese Gateau, Tomato Jam, Buttermilk Biscuit Crumbles, Young Variegated Lettuces, Rack of Spring Lamb, Burnt Cipollini Soubise, Carolina Gold Rice Jambalaya, Nectarine Tart and Crème Fraîche Ice Cream.
Tomorrow’s meal is being prepared by White House Executive Chef Christeta Comerford.
China from both the Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush administrations will be used during the upscale meal.
The Trumps and Macrons review the troops during last summer’s Bastille Day parade
They ended the visit, during which Trump told Macron’s 64-year-old wife, ‘You’re in such good shape,’ with an effusive display of hugging, hand-yanking and back slapping
In the City of Lights, Macron welcomed Trump with a military band as Les Invalides, a military museum and monument (pictured) and took him to a five-star dinner inside the Eiffel Tower.
A State Dining Room meal in 2007, Fox notes that George W. Bush’s administration served French President Nicolas Sarkozy and more than 100 other guests ‘lobster bisque, lamb with tomato fondue, green beans and sweet potato casserole, salad and dessert.’
Louisiana politicians were among the invited guests that evening, as well as Major League Baseball pitcher Tom Glavine, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and French chef Guy Savoy.
An East Room performance of actors playing Washington and Frenchman Marquis de Lafayette, whom the square in front of the White House is named after, followed the dinner.
Sarkozy took a tour of Mount Vernon on his own the next day.
Macron will address a joint session of Congress on Wednesday before departing Washington in rare speech that’s extended to only a few visiting leaders.
Macron told Fox in the special that was taped in Elysee Palace and aired on Sunday, ‘I’m very honored to come to your country at the invitation of President Trump and have the opportunity to discuss with him and go into the Congress for this address.
‘My objective is to highlight a long-term history between our two countries, based on values,’ he said. ‘And I think the U.S. today has a very strong role to play for peace in different regions of the world and especially Middle East.’
The U.S. is one of the last best hopes for bringing peace to troubled regions, he said.
‘So, I will advocate for multilateralism in front of the Congress for that, which means playing all together in order to reduce the influence and support of some rogue states and very tough dictators. And obviously fight against the terrorism together.’