WASHINGTON, D.C.: President Donald Trump and his 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 much in common.
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 French centrist—who took office on Sunday— and the 70-year-old US leader are not as uncomfortable allies as it first may seem.
This despite suspicions that Trump would have preferred far-right candidate Marine Le Pen to win the recent French election.
For one, both Macron and Trump are presidential neophytes.
“They are two of the newest leaders to the stage,” said a senior Trump administration official, adding that a recent phone call between the two leaders very well.
Trump “was very impressed with Mr. Macron,” said the official, who had direct knowledge of the call.
Trump—who regularly gripes about getting insufficient credit for his November 2016 election victory—was impressed that Macron won 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 sensitive issues.
Le Pen support downplayed
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 impression that Trump supported Le Pen is exaggerated, based only on “one tweet about borders” and Le Pen’s visit to Trump Tower in January, before the US billionaire took office.
Trump aides stress that Le Pen had no meeting with the campaign when she visited Trump Tower, much less with the now-president.
In April Trump tweeted in the wake of a deadly shooting on the Champs Elysees: “Another terrorist attack in Paris. The people of France will not take much more of this. Will have a big effect on presidential election!”