The awkward bromance between President Trump and his French counterpart took a formal turn Tuesday as the two world leaders reveled in the pageantry of an official state visit in Washington.
Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron celebrated their clumsy chumminess with a couple of cringeworthy handshakes, kisses on the cheek and a little brushing off of the shoulders.
But the two also talked shop during a day that included serious sitdowns as well as White House spectacle and pomp.
The two world leaders, joined by their spouses, met on the White House South Lawn, surrounded by more than 500 members of the U.S. military and government.
Macron told Trump that the U.S. and France would defeat terrorism, curtail weapons of mass destruction in North Korea and Iran and act together on behalf of the planet, a reference to Macron’s attempts to convince the U.S. to rejoin the Paris climate accord.
As Trump hosted the first official state visit of his administration, he and Macron lavished praise — and even a pair of kisses — on one another.
“It’s an honor to call you my friend,” Trump said, after predicting Macron would be a historic leader.
The pair even demonstrated some of the uncomfortable chemistry they’ve shared in past meetings.
They held hands for an extended time as they ducked past photographers and at one point Trump gingerly brushed something off Macron’s suit jacket while the pair were in the Oval Office, saying, “We have a very special relationship. In fact, I’ll get that little piece of dandruff off.
“We have to make him perfect — he is perfect,” he added.
A series of meetings involving cabinet officials and other dignitaries followed a White House welcome ceremony on the South Lawn that featured soldiers and a 21-gun salute.
Trump told the crowd that the relationship he has forged with Macron is testament to the “enduring friendship that binds our two nations.”
He thanked the French leader for his “steadfast partnership” in the recent missile strike in response to the chemical attack in Syria.
Macron said, “History is calling us. It is urging our people to find the fortitude that has guided us in the most difficult of times. France and with it, Europe, and the United States have an appointment with history.”
First Lady Melania Trump, whose wide-brimmed white hat stole the show at the morning ceremony, joined France’s Brigitte Macron for a visit to the National Gallery of Art, where they viewed the works of French post-Impressionist painter Paul Cezanne.
The Trumps and the Macrons continued the pleasantries into the evening, exchanging hugs and air kisses before reentering the White House for a dinner attended by some 130 guests. The menu, handpicked by Melania, consisted of three courses blending American and French influences, culminating in a main course of rack of lamb served with Carolina gold rice jambalaya.
The First Lady, decked out for the evening in a haute couture, silver hand-painted Chanel frock embroidered with sequins and crystals, got high marks for hosting the event.
“To America’s absolutely incredible First Lady, thank you for making this an evening we will always cherish and remember,” said Trump in a toast. But all the hearty feelings of fraternity didn’t extend to every topic.
Trump did not mince words when asked if he would be willing to stay in the Iran agreement.
“People know my views on the Iran deal ... It’s insane, it’s ridiculous. It should have never been made.
“It should never have been made. But we will be talking about it,” he added.
Macron said he and Trump would look at the deal “in a wider regional context.”
“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,” he said.
The 40-year-old European leader, dubbed the “Trump whisperer” by some, was also attempting to petition the President on a host of topics including trade tariffs and climate change.
American University professor James Thurber said that despite smiles and handshakes, Macron may have his work cut out for him.
“He thinks he knows how to play the President, but I don’t know if anyone knows how to play the President,” Thurber told the Daily News. “He’s here to try to influence the President on several issues, but I’m not sure if he’ll be successful.”
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