WASHINGTON — President Trump has accepted French President Emmanuel Macron’s invitation to attend July 14 celebrations in France, the White House announced Wednesday.
The Bastille Day national holiday has additional significance this year: It will also serve to mark the 100th anniversary of U.S. troops entering World War I, a critical contribution to victory in a conflict that cost 1.4 million French lives.
“President Trump looks forward to reaffirming America’s strong ties of friendship with France, to celebrating this important day with the French people,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement.
“The two leaders will further build on the strong counter-terrorism cooperation and economic partnership between the two countries, and they will discuss many other issues of mutual concern,” Spicer added.
France’s ambassador to the United States, Gérard Araud, tweeted that Trump and Macron would attend the traditional July 14 military parade down the iconic Champs-Élysées avenue, and that U.S. forces would take part.
Macron and Trump have had something of a strained relationship. The American leader essentially endorsed his French counterpart’s right-wing rival in presidential elections this year, and then announced that the U.S. would pull out of the Paris climate agreement. Macron had made it clear that keeping the U.S. in that agreement was one of his top foreign policy priorities.
The two also had awkward body language at a summit of the Group of Seven rich democracies in May, including a handshake that looked like a battle for dominance. Macron also appeared to snub Trump during another photo op with the assembled leaders.
The French leader invited Trump to France during a telephone call on Tuesday. In that conversation, the two presidents also agreed on the importance of a “joint response” if Syrian government forces launch a new chemical attack, according to Macron’s office.
Trump also congratulated his French counterpart on his party’s parliamentary election victory, and “wished him luck in launching his legislative agenda,” the White House said.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump repeatedly deplored terrorist attacks in France, including an attack on Bastille Day celebrations in Nice, a resort city on the country’s Mediterranean coast. In February 2017, he drew a public rebuke from Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo after he described the City of Lights as unsafe.
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