CAEN, France — The D-Day commemoration was an occasion for France to showcase its long friendship with the United States, but U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron nevertheless acknowledged their differences on key world issues when they met Thursday.
The two leaders showed camaraderie as they marked D-Day at the Normandy American Cemetery near Omaha Beach, where the Americans landed on June 6, 1944, marking the beginning of the end of Europe’s Nazi occupation. Trump praised Macron’s poignant speech of gratitude — and they even briefly hugged. They seemed more tense, however, as they started their one-on-one meeting later.
“We’re doing a lot together and the relationship between you and I and also the United States and France has been outstanding,” Trump said ahead of the meeting in the city of Caen.
“I’m very happy that President Trump came to France and that we are able to work together,” Macron answered.
The bilateral talks lasted for about two hours, including lunch. Trump and Macron discussed all major issues they disagree on, including Iran, world trade and climate change.
The meeting was “positive,” a top official at Macron’s office said after Trump left, speaking on customary condition of anonymity. He noted that being able to have long talks on dividing issues shows that “there’s mutual trust.”
There was no immediate readout on the meeting from the U.S. delegation.
Amid rising tensions between Iran and the U.S., Macron delivered a message of appeasement and dialogue, the French official said.
Trump played down differences with France over Iran, telling Macron that they both agree Tehran should not have nuclear weapons. He reiterated his offer to reopen negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.
After the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal meant to keep Tehran from building atomic weapons, France is pushing to keep Iran in the deal and find ways to counter Washington’s increased economic sanctions.
On world trade, Macron reiterated that he wants the “rules of the game” to be respected and France’s interests — and companies — to be preserved, the French official said, stressing the issue could not be solved in only one meeting.
France hopes to be able to discuss trade and climate with the U.S. again at the upcoming summit of the Group of Seven most advanced economies, which is scheduled to take place in August in southwestern France. Trump has not yet officially confirmed he will attend the summit.
Security, the fight against terrorism, the situation in the Middle East, Libya and Ukraine were also on the agenda.
The French president advocates for a stronger Europe in a globalized world. He positions himself as a bulwark against rising populism on the continent, warning against the dangers of nationalism and isolationism — a position that is the opposite of Trump’s.
The two leaders’ ideological differences have gotten in the way in the past. The last time that Trump came to France, for World War I commemorations in November, things went wrong.
Tweeting as he landed in Paris, Trump blasted Macron for making an “insulting” proposal to build up Europe’s military to counter the U.S., China and Russia. The French presidency argued that it was a misunderstanding.
Macron still defends the idea of a European military force that would be a way “to say that Europe knows how to protect itself.” That force “would be part of NATO and it would strengthen Europe within NATO,” Macron said last month.
Trump also tweeted last November against French tariffs on U.S. wine and pointed to Macron’s “very low approval rate.”
Since then, he has mocked Macron on Twitter about the yellow vest anti-government protests that have wracked France for more than six months, suggesting his climate policy was to blame.
Despite diverging policies, France and the U.S. have a close military cooperation. They are deeply involved in the fight against the Islamic State group, and Washington also supports France’s military operations to maintain security in Africa’s Sahel region.
“Every time democracy and freedom are threatened, we take action together. And we will continue,” Macron said in Caen. “I very much value the historic relation and the friendship between the United States and France, President Trump and myself.”