US President Donald Trump was “ranting and venting on trade” to French President Emmanuel Macron during their bilateral meeting Monday evening, according to a senior diplomatic source.
Trump lambasted the European Union for its trade policies, saying it was worse than China — a complaint that the US president made to his French counterpart in an April meeting at the White House.
The source described Trump as “going off” on EU trade during his meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. Trump said that the EU had to open up on agriculture — a continued point of contention in trade negotiations between the two entities. Macron was respectful to Trump and pushed back some on the topic but moved the conversation forward, the source said.
There was “some rapport” between the two, “but it’s not what it (once) was,” the source said.
Trump and Macron also talked about Iran and North Korea, during which Trump expressed his views in what the source described as “very predictable terms.”
The next day, Macron delivered a pointed rebuke to Trump in his speech at the UN General Assembly, both directly and implicitly criticizing the administration for its policies on Iran, climate change, the UN, migration and Mideast peace.
Macron began by telling the assembly that the world order based on sovereignty and equality among nations that came into being in the 1600s was facing a “far-reaching crisis,” and said the answer lay in cooperation and collaboration among nations.
“Nationalism always leads to defeat,” said Macron, who couched his remarks in the historical context of Europe’s world wars. “If courage is lacking in the defense of fundamental principles, international order becomes fragile and this can lead as we have already seen twice, to global war. We saw that with our very own eyes.”
On trade, Macron declared, “bilateral agreements, new protectionisms, will not work.”
The French President has made no secret of his disagreements with the US President. In April, during Macron’s first state visit as president to the US, he contradicted Trump on several fronts in a speech before Congress.
“There is no planet B,” Macron told lawmakers, referring to Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement.
Macron’s visit to the White House in April also included efforts to persuade Trump to save the Iran deal, which the US President ultimately announced his intention to withdraw from in May.
Before the cracks started to appear in their relationship, Macron had been dubbed by some observers as the “Trump whisperer,” after the two appeared to form a close bond during Trump’s visit to Paris last year.