WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump and his recently sworn-in French counterpart Emmanuel Macron are to hold a “lengthy lunch” in Brussels this month — a bonding exercise for two men the White House believes have more in common than believed.
Amid deep-seated suspicions that Trump would have preferred Marcon’s far-right rival Marine Le Pen to emerge victorious from last week’s election, senior US administration officials told Agence France-Presse that Trump will break bread with Macron on May 25 in Brussels and “compare perspectives.”
The White House believes the 39-year-old centrist and his bruising 70-year-old counterpart are not as uncomfortable allies as it first may seem.
For one, they are both presidential neophytes.
“They are two of the newest leaders to the stage,” said one senior administration official, who said a recent phone call went very well.
Trump “was very impressed with Mr Macron,” said the official, who had direct knowledge of the call.
Trump — who regularly gripes that he does not get enough credit for his election win — was particularly impressed Macron winning almost 50 percent more votes than Le Pen.
“It was clearly a very strong electoral win,” said the official, who asked not to be named in order to discuss the call and other sensitive issues.
While their ideology may differ, both Trump and Macron “come from outside traditional political lines.”
Macron was the first candidate from outside the traditional political parties to win the French presidency in decades.
Trump won the Republican presidential nomination, but has often shattered party orthodoxy.
The White House also believes that the idea Trump supported Le Pen was overdone, based only on “one tweet about borders” and Le Pen turning up in Trump Tower.
Trump aides now stress that Le Pen had no meeting with the campaign when she visited New York in January, much less with the now-president. AFP