President Donald Trump, who said last year that Paris has become “so out of control, so dangerous” because of the threat of terrorism, said Thursday that France will take a turn for the better under the leadership of new President Emmanuel Macron.
The two leaders met Thursday in Paris ahead of Friday’s Bastille Day celebrations, which will carry the added significance of commemorating the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I. Trump and Macron held a joint news conference Thursday, after which they were scheduled to have dinner at a restaurant inside the Eiffel Tower.
“You know what? It’s going to be just fine, because you have a great president. You have somebody that’s going to run this country right,” Trump said in response to a reporter’s question about his past rhetoric regarding Paris. “And I would be willing to bet, because I think this is one of great cities, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and you have a great leader now. You have a great president. You have a tough president.”
Macron, elected months after Trump’s inauguration, was endorsed by former U.S. President Barack Obama, a political rival of Trump’s, and has been vocal at times in his criticism of the current U.S. president, especially with regard to Trump’s policy on climate change. At a meeting in Brussels last May, Macron held onto an extended handshake with Trump, a gesture he said was intended “to show that we won’t make small concessions, even symbolic ones, while not overhyping things either.”
Trump, for his part, declared this spring that he had been elected to serve the people of “Pittsburgh, not Paris,” in a speech announcing his decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord. On the campaign trail, the president relied often on Paris as a cautionary example of a city that had been overrun with terrorists as a result of open borders.
And while the president stopped short of offering an endorsement in the French presidential election, he spoke warmly of right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen, whose campaign drew on some of the same nationalistic themes as Trump’s.
But Thursday, the two men spoke highly of one another, even if their body language onstage seemed a bit awkward at times. Macron said the Eiffel Tower dinner Thursday night “will be a dinner between friends, because we are the representatives of two countries which have been allies forever.” In return, Trump predicted that Macron would solve the problems he had warned about in the lead-up to the U.S. presidential election last November.
“He’s not going to be easy on people that are breaking the laws, and people that show this tremendous violence. So I really have a feeling that you’re going to have a very, very peaceful and beautiful Paris. And I’m coming back,” Trump said, turning to Macron. “You better do a good job, please. Otherwise, you’re going to make me look very bad.”