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Trump Joins French President Macron For Bastille Day Celebration In Paris


Now that President Trump's visit to Paris is over, we're going to talk more about the visit and about his new friendship with French President Emmanuel Macron. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports that despite their differences, the two presidents seemed to have formed a bond.


ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: The Bastille Day parade was the crowning event in a two-day visit packed with pomp and ceremony. President Trump sat next to President Macron in the grandstand as troops, tanks and artillery paraded past them. The procession was led by American troops. The first five were dressed in World War I uniforms. The perfectly choreographed visit included a tour of Napoleon's tomb and dinner at a chic restaurant in the Eiffel Tower. It was meant to impress, and it clearly hit the mark. Speaking at a joint press conference, Trump reversed his previous negative talk about France and even said he'd happily return to Paris.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The friendship between our two nations and ourselves, I might add is unbreakable. Our occasional disagreements are nothing compared to the immortal bonds of culture, destiny and liberty that unite us.



BEARDSLEY: The French media closely followed the Trumps' visit with the Macrons. News analysts commented on everything. The presidential body language was scrutinized as the two leaders shared pats on the back, close conversation and even some near hugs. They didn't need an interpreter because Macron speaks English. Both presidents stressed their personal friendship. Andre Kaspi is professor of American history at the Sorbonne University.

ANDRE KASPI: Emmanuel Macron is 39, exactly the same age as Donald Trump's son. And I think that for Donald Trump, there is a kind of relationship between father and son, even if it seems strange to think of it from the president of the United States toward the president of the French Republic.

BEARDSLEY: Apolline de Malherbe is a political analyst for BFMTV. She says Macron's main objective is to keep America in the circle of nations.

APOLLINE DE MALHERBE: (Through interpreter) Macron doesn't want Trump to become too isolated. But of course he has a desire for grandeur too, and having the world see him with the American president strolling through Paris and dining at the Eiffel Tower is powerful. There's a diplomatic aspect, but there's also an economic aspect that Macron never forgets.

BEARDSLEY: History professor Kaspi says given that German Chancellor Angela Merkel does not have a close relationship with Trump and that British Prime Minister Theresa May is politically weakened, Macron now has a special role in U.S.-European relations.

KASPI: Emmanuel Macron is the only leader right now in Europe that can try to maintain a good relationship with the United States.

BEARDSLEY: There were very few protests against Trump's visit, though a couple hundred people did get together in the center of Paris to denounce the American president.

Delivery driver Antonio Tabares came out to watch the Bastille Day parade and said it would have been shocking if Macron hadn't invited the president of the United States to attend this important anniversary.

ANTONIO TABARES: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: "Yes, of course it was the right thing," he says. "I don't like everything America does, but they're the ones who keep the peace in the world. We've got to have America around." Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in 2004 as a freelance journalist, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture and gastronomy. Since then, she has steadily worked her way to becoming an integral part of the NPR Europe reporting team.