July 24, 2020 | News | No Comments
Emmanuel Macron has called for a “new deal” with Iran after Donald Trump criticised the current nuclear agreement as “insane” and “ridiculous”.
The comments came ahead of a State Dinner at the White House, the culmination of a day which showcased the "bromance" between the two leaders.
The French president said the deal should cover Iran’s ballistic missiles activity and involvement in the Middle East, including Syria, as well as nuclear issues.
The comments will not calm EU fears that Mr Trump is preparing to rip up the existing Iran deal when it is up for renewal on May 12.
That agreement was secured by Barack Obama, his predecessor, and waives economic sanctions in turn from Iran not pursuing its nuclear programme.
Convincing Mr Trump to stick by the deal was one of Mr Macron’s stated goals for his three-day state visit to America, with the French leader initially saying there was no “Plan B”.
Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron’s ‘special relationship’
However, at a press conference after talks on Tuesday, Mr Macron hinted that France and other supporters of the deal – such as Britain – must work on a new agreement.
Mr Macron said of the pair’s discussions on Iran: “It is not a mystery, we did not have the same starting stances and neither you nor I have a habit of changing our stances or going with the wind."
He said the discussion had been “very frank”, adding: “We therefore wish, from now on, to work on a new deal with Iran.”
Mr Macron said four areas needed to be addressed: Iran’s nuclear programme before 2025, long-term nuclear ambitions, ballistic missile activities and involvement in the Middle East.
The French president said he believed the current nuclear deal agreement addresses the first of those areas but accepted that Mr Trump did not share the view.
Mr Trump said just before the talks: “The Iran deal is a terrible deal … It’s insane, it’s ridiculous, it should have never been made.”
He warned Iran that they would face “bigger problems than they have ever had before” if they restarted their nuclear programme.
Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, said the country would “most likely”’ abandon the nuclear deal if Mr Trump pulled America out.
Mr Macron has pushed Mr Trump, in public and private, to keep troops in Syria to fight Islamic State.
He will face further pressure to do so from Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, who visits Washington later this week.
At a press conference in the White House with Mr Macron, the US president said: "We want to come home. We’ll be coming home. We’re going to be coming home relatively soon."
No promise to waive steel sanctions
On the issue of trade, Mr Macron had been critical of Mr Trump’s protectionist policies going into their meeting, and he had called on the US to exempt European countries from 25 per cent tariffs on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum.
There was no such concession from Mr Trump, but Mr Macron said he was "confident" about the future of the trading relationship. He said trade was "balanced" between the two countries.
There was also no movement from Mr Trump on his decision to withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate accord.
Mr Macron said the US and France did "not always agree on the solution" and added "the fate of our children is at stake".
Trump: Kim Jong-un ‘very honourable’
The US president informed Mr Macron that he would be meeting Kim Jong-un soon and plans for a summit with the North Korean leader were progressing well.
Mr Trump said: "We have been told directly that they would like to have the meeting as soon as possible, and we think that’s a great thing for the world. We’re having very good discussions.
"Kim Jong-un, he really has been very open and I think very honourable from everything we’re seeing."
Mr Trump was asked to define what he meant by North Korea "denuclearising" and indicated he would not countenance any deal under which the rogue nation kept any of its nuclear capability.
He said: "It means they get rid of nukes. Very simple. It would be very easy for me to make a deal, but I don’t want to do that. I want them to get rid of their nukes."
Jokes and joshing in the White House
The new ‘relation spéciale’ between France and America was on full display on the second day of Mr Macron’s state visit to Washington.
“Mr President, they’re all saying what a great relationship we have and they’re actually correct,” Mr Trump told Mr Macron as the cameras rolled. “Finally, it’s not fake news."
Mr Macron, 31 years younger and half a foot shorter than Mr Trump, beamed up at his counterpart during many of their engagements. Mr Trump, for his part, appeared unusually relaxed.
There had been hand-holding with Theresa May during her visit, a brief moment designed to steady the president that the Prime Minister soon recoiled from.
But with Mr Macron there were multiple joining of hands and waving to the cameras – occasionally with their wives, always with smiles.
The pair did not disguise their policy differences but made much of their “special” friendship, not holding back on the flattery.
“We have a very special relationship, in fact I’ll get that little piece of dandruff off,” Mr Trump joked at one point, brushing at the French president’s shoulder. “We have to make him perfect, he is perfect.”
State dinner celebrates US-French links
As he gave a toast at the state dinner, Mr Trump hailed the bonds between the US and France, saying, "May our friendship grow even deeper, may our kinship grow even stronger and may our sacred liberty never die."
But while the day had been about the leaders, all eyes were on Mrs Trump on Tuesday night.
There were no celebrity guests, Hollywood entertainers or superstar chefs. But as she stepped out of the background to host her first state dinner, the First Lady sought to sparkle at in her moment in the spotlight.
After ditching her trademark dark sunglasses for a white skirt suit and hat earlier on Tuesday, the first lady appeared in a Chanel gown to greet Mr Macron and his wife, Brigitte.
It was a big moment in fashion – and public life – for the former model, who has kept a relatively low profile since Trump took office and who was playing hostess at her highest-profile event yet.
With her first state dinner, Mrs. Trump seemed to be aiming to make a statement. In a nod to France, she wore a black Chantilly lace Chanel haute couture gown, hand-painted with silver and embroidered with crystal and sequins, according to her spokeswoman. Her French counterpart wore Louis Vuitton.
The president lavished praise on his wife as he gave a toast at the opulent affair, calling her "America’s absolutely incredible first lady."
The meal was selected to match America’s links with France.
For starters there was goat cheese gateau coupled with buttermilk biscuit crumbles, with greens picked from the White House kitchen garden.
For mains there was spring lamb served with Carolina gold rice jambalaya, cooked in a style from New Orleans – a US city renowned for its historic ties to France.
And for pudding, there was a nectarine tart “infused with White House honey and accented by crème fraîche ice cream”.
The US-French references were deliberate, a note from the White House explained: “The menu will be a showcase of the best of America’s cuisines and traditions, with nuances of French influences.”
And it was not just the food. The wine was selected to “embody the historic friendship between the United States and France, which dates back to the American Revolution,” a White House official explained.
The Domaine Serene Chardonnay ‘Evenstad Reserve’, a 2015 vintage, was made with French plants from Dijon planted in volcanic soil from Oregon. It was “a product of American and French collaboration”.
Mrs Trump designed the menu and the flower arrangement: 1,200 branches of cherry blossom in the White House’s Cross Hall, 500 stems of white sweet peas and almost 1,000 stems of white lilac in its State Dining Room.
President Macron is correct in saying there's no "Plan B" on JCPOA. It's either all or nothing. European leaders should encourage President Trump not just to stay in the nuclear deal, but more importantly to begin implementing his part of the bargain in good faith.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) April 23, 2018
But with the spotlight fixed on Mr Trump and “my friend Emmanuel”, the First Lady’s team predicted little praise for her soft power diplomacy.
“We’re probably not going to get the credit we deserve,” grumbled one of her aides.
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