During his state visit to the US, French President Emmanuel Macron has been very ‘handsy’ with President Donald Trump. Do the hugs, kisses, back-pats and arm-wrestling exchanged suggest friendship or tension?
On the surface of it, the two presidents have a “beautiful friendship” straight out of that closing scene of ‘Casablanca.’ Yet Macron’s insistence on touching Trump has raised some eyebrows in Washington. Some of it could be an American lack of familiarity with French customs, or Macron’s mannerisms in particular.
For his part, Trump has been giving Macron the “upper hand” in their handshakes, foregoing his trademark tug-and-pull.
During a White House photo-op on Tuesday, Macron patted Trump’s knee. Earlier, Trump had brushed a spot of dandruff of Macron’s collar, proclaiming, “We have to make him perfect.”
At the start of a joint press conference, Macron arm-wrestled Trump into an awkward hug and a kiss on the cheek, prompting Trump to laugh and quip, “I like him a lot.”
As the two presidents left the room, Macron put a hand around Trump’s shoulders, looking like he was shepherding his elder (Trump is 71, Macron is 40) down the stairs.
Earlier on Tuesday, after their joint appearance outside the White House, Macron reached out to hold Trump’s hand as the two presidents walked back inside, inspiring many a meme on social media.
Since his election in May 2017, the youngest president in French history has behaved as if he had something to prove. He became famous for a long push-and-pull handshake with Trump during the US president’s visit to France last year.
“My handshake with him, it wasn’t innocent,” Macron later said. “One must show that you won’t make small concessions, even symbolic ones.”
Just last week, after sharing a drink with some French journalists, Macron proclaimed himself“an equal” of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and argued that the missile strikes by the US, the UK and France were “a decision that will lead to peace in Syria.”
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