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President Trump In Paris For Armistice Day Visit


President Trump is in Paris to mark the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, the end of World War I. He also spent some time today with French President Emmanuel Macron. While on his way to Paris, the president set the stage for the meeting with this tweet - quote, "President Macron of France has just suggested that Europe build its own military in order to protect itself from the U.S., China and Russia. Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the U.S. subsidizes greatly." We're joined now from Paris by NPR's Ayesha Rascoe. Ayesha, thanks so much for being with us.

AYESHA RASCOE, BYLINE: Thanks for having me.

SIMON: Well, after that tweet, the two presidents got together. How did it seem to go?

RASCOE: Well, they both seemed to try to focus on the positive. Trump and Macron talked about their friendship and areas where they work together, like cooperation against terrorism and responding to the chemical attacks in Syria. But there was this elephant in the room about the tweet from Trump, and Trump was asked about that when he was sitting with Macron, and this is what he said...


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We're getting along from the standpoint of fairness, and I want it to be fair. We want to help Europe, but it has to be fair. Right now, the burden sharing has been largely on the United States, as the president will say, and he understands that.

SIMON: Ayesha, what does this tell us anything about? Because President Macron seemed to really make an effort at the - when President Trump came into office - to be, in a sense, a bridge between Europe and the U.S. What's their relationship like now?

RASCOE: Well, what you heard from Trump, that wasn't really a ringing endorsement of the relationship. At least in front of the cameras, the two did not seem as warm to each other as they have in the past. You know, they're known for having this sort of, like, bromance, and there was none of that.

SIMON: The endless handshake.

RASCOE: Yes, yeah, the handshakes, the laughs, the smiles - there wasn't a lot of that. But, that said, Macron did try to explain his desire for a European army. He said it's actually in line with what Trump wants, which is for Europe to spend more on its own defense and rely on the U.S. less. And the French government is saying basically that this was a misunderstanding between Trump and Macron and that the two leaders are actually on the same page.

SIMON: And what's ahead for the president today?

RASCOE: Well, you might remember Trump agreed to this trip after he had to cancel plans for a massive military parade in the U.S. But unlike Bastille Day, which Trump attended last year in Paris, there are no big parades. This is kind of treated more somber. So he's going to attend a number of events. Tonight, he's supposed to attend a dinner hosted by Macron and his wife. There was supposed to be a visit to an American cemetery today in France, but it was called off due to bad weather. Tomorrow, there will be more events commemorating the armistice and a luncheon. Dozens of world leaders are supposed to be in attendance. And then Trump is supposed to deliver remarks tomorrow, kind of in honor of Veterans Day. One event that Trump will not be attending is this peace summit that Macron is holding that is supposed to be focused on multilateralism, which is something that Trump hasn't really been a big fan of.

SIMON: And you mentioned all the world leaders at lunch. Does that include any kind of meeting with Vladimir Putin?

RASCOE: No. Now, there was talk that they would try to meet in Paris, but there was concern that it might overshadow all of the other events. So the White House hasn't ruled out an informal meeting kind of on the sidelines of the luncheon but that Putin and Trump will meet in - at the G-20 next month.

SIMON: Ayesha Rascoe in Paris, thanks so much for being with us. Travel well.

RASCOE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.