French President Emmanuel Macron will arrive at the White House Monday afternoon as the U.S.-France alliance faces important tests in the days and weeks ahead. Here are the big agenda items that are likely to come up during the meetings between President Trump and President Macron.
Russia continues to challenge the sovereignty of many nations in eastern Europe, and France has traditionally viewed itself as one of the vital bulwarks against Moscow’s threat to the territorial integrity of fellow European nation-states.
Macron has called on the U.S. to continue its tough stance on Russia and President Vladimir Putin. Before coming to Washington, Macron warned against being perceived as “weak” on relations with Russia.
“He’s strong and smart. But don’t be naive. He’s obsessed by interference in our democracies,” Macron said of Putin in an interview with Fox News over the weekend. “That’s why I do believe that we should never be weak with President Putin. When you are weak, he uses it.”
As President Trump contemplates whether to withdraw from Syria, France has urged the United States to remain in the fight.
Macron has been personally lobbying President Trump to remain in Syria to continue the war against ISIS and also to help stave off Russian and Iranian regional intrusion.
France, along with the United Kingdom, joined the United States in the April 14 launch of retaliatory strikes against Assad regime targets in Syria.
“We cannot tolerate the recurring use of chemical weapons, which is an immediate danger for the Syrian people and our collective security,” a statement from Macron’s office read after the strike was announced.
France remains supportive of the Obama administration-brokered deal with the terrorist regime in Iran.
Macron argues that there are measures that can be taken to reinforce the deal, instead of scrapping it altogether.
The president has made his position on NATO quite clear. He is fed up with subsidizing European powers’ defenses. He has called on member nations to meet the NATO goal of two percent of GDP spent on defense. France spends about 1.8 percent of its GDP on defense.
Paris climate accord
There are indications that Macron will attempt to convince the president to get back into the Paris climate agreement. It will be a hard sell, given that the president’s base overwhelmingly disagrees with the initiative, along with the supposed “science” that supports the agreement. President Trump doesn’t want the United States to commit “tens of billions” of dollars to the climate fund. He has in the past described it as tremendously unfair to the U.S. taxpayer.
What is on the public agenda?
According to the agenda released by the White House, the purpose of the trip is to reinvigorate the historic France-U.S. alliance, which was crucial to America’s founding and later to restoring France’s sovereignty after World War II.
Trump and Macron will tour Mount Vernon, the Virginia home of George Washington, this evening to recognize the importance of the bond between France and the United States. On Tuesday, they will hold several working meetings at the White House. Macron will address Congress on Wednesday, which is the anniversary of French General Charles de Gaulle’s address to a joint session of Congress in 1960.