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Roundup: Between Macron and Trump, a meeting through diplomatic dissonance

Xinhua,April 23, 2018 Adjust font size:

PARIS, April 23 (Xinhua) -- French President Emmanuel Macron is preparing for a three-day transatlantic trip starting Monday at the invitation of his American counterpart Donald Trump against the backdrop of a complicated international situation.

Since the two leaders took office in 2017, Paris and Washington have shared concerns over the struggle against terrorism and support for the G5 Sahel, an African regional security bloc comprising Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger.

Trump's visit to France on July 14 last year, which coincided with France's annual Bastille Day parade, contributed to the exchange of amenities between the two countries.

However, a series of disagreements on international and economic subjects persist even though Macron seeks to personalize the Franco-American relationship with pragmatism.

Regarding international issues, Trump has threatened to denounce Iran over the 2015 nuclear deal, calling the agreement "one of the worst deals I've ever seen." Washington has given the European signatories -- France, Germany and Britain -- a May 12 deadline to "fix the terrible flaws" in the deal.

Also, the Paris Climate Agreement, judged as "bad" by the American leader, and the moving of the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem are some of the thorny subjects, among others.

On the trade front, the Trump administration's barely veiled threats of an economic war make the Franco-American relationship structurally unbalanced.

Macron ratcheted up his tone at the end of March against Trump following Washington's decision to slap new import duties on steel and aluminum. "We speak of everything on principle with a friendly country which respects the rules of the WTO (World Trade Organization). We speak of nothing on principle while it's with a pistol to our temples," he said.

Trump gave the European Union and six countries until May 1 to negotiate permanent exemptions from the trade tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, which Washington had decided to put in place in order to end trade "aggressions."

Analysts said it is unlikely to water down Washington's tough stance on trade and other issues with midterm elections looming on the horizon in the United States in November.

"The gamble on understanding made by Paris seems to have become more dangerous, all the more because the hardening of the American foreign affairs team must probably be dreaded in the long term," said Laurence Nardon, a senior research fellow at the French Institute of International Relations in Paris.

In terms of the Trump administration's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel last December, Macron criticized the move as a "threat to peace" as he hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as the U.S. recognition set off an explosion in the region. Later in December, Macron, alongside Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said in Paris that the United States had "marginalized" itself in this way.

Moreover, Paris and Washington hold different views concerning the role of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

The Trump administration is pressing the European allies to meet NATO's target of spending 2 percent of economic output on defense, suggesting the United States may not defend countries that do not. Under U.S. pressure, European NATO members have to plough more money into the military and France has added over 2 billion U.S. dollars funding to its 2018 defense budget. Enditem