Watch and read all the remarks
By NY Daily News
With exaggerated handshakes and a pair of kisses, President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron professed a sunny, best-friends relationship Tuesday, even as the two allies strained to bridge differences over the Iran nuclear agreement, Syria and more.
Hosting Macron for the first state visit of his administration, culminating in a lavish dinner Tuesday night, Trump remained firm in his criticism of past and enduring American undertakings in Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East. But he appeared open to the French president's pleas to maintain U.S. involvement in Syria — and expressed openness to negotiating a new agreement with Iran.
As Trump weighs withdrawing the U.S. from the Iran nuclear accord, he issued a warning to Iran against restarting its nuclear program, saying, "They will have bigger problems than they've ever had before."
At a joint White House news conference, he appeared to be more in line with Macron's push for a longer-term U.S. presence in Syria. Trump, who announced weeks ago that he would withdraw American troops, said Macron reinforced the idea of a potential Iranian takeover of territory liberated from the Islamic State group.
"We'll be coming home," Trump said, "but we want to leave a strong and lasting footprint."
Macron told Trump that together the U.S. and France would defeat terrorism, curtail weapons of mass destruction in North Korea and Iran, and act together on behalf of the planet. That last point was a reference to Macron's work to revive the U.S. role in the Paris climate accord to fight global warming, another international agreement Trump has spurned.
Differences aside, Trump and Macron lavished praise — and even a pair of kisses — on each other Tuesday.
"It's an honor to call you my friend," Trump said, after predicting Macron would be a historic leader of France.
In one light moment, Trump sought to demonstrate some of the personal chemistry he claimed. The U.S. president brushed something off Macron's suit jacket, saying, "We have a very special relationship; in fact, I'll get that little piece of dandruff off. We have to make him perfect — he is perfect."
The meetings followed a pomp-filled welcome ceremony on the South Lawn. Highlights included a 21-gun salute and Melania Trump's wide-brim white hat, which drew more comments than all the rest of the pageantry.
Trump said before an audience of U.S. soldiers and members of his Cabinet that the relationship he forged with Macron at the start of his presidency was a testament to the "enduring friendship that binds our two nations." He thanked the French leader for his "steadfast partnership" in the recent missile strike in response to the chemical attack in Syria.
Macron said, "History is calling us. It is urging our people to find the fortitude that has guided us in the most difficult of times. France and with it, Europe, and the United States have an appointment with history." Later he placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.
The social highlight of Macron's visit was Tuesday night's formal state dinner at the White House. More than 130 guests dined on rack of lamb and nectarine tart and enjoyed an after-dinner performance by the Washington National Opera. The previous evening, the leaders and their wives took a helicopter tour of Washington landmarks and had dinner at the Potomac River home of George Washington in Mount Vernon, Virginia.
As he gave a toast at the dinner, Trump hailed the bonds between the U.S. and France, saying, "May our friendship grow even deeper, may our kinship grow even stronger and may our sacred liberty never die."
As for substantive issues, one of Macron's main objectives during his three-day visit to Washington was to persuade Trump to stay in the Iran accord, which is aimed at restricting Iran's development of nuclear weapons. Trump is skeptical of the pact's effectiveness — "it's insane, it's ridiculous," he said Tuesday — but he declined to say whether he would withdraw the U.S. by the May 12 deadline he has set.
He reminded his French counterpart of what he sees as flaws in the agreement, which he said fails to address ballistic missiles or Iran's activities in Yemen or Syria.
Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned that pulling out would undermine America's upcoming nuclear talks with North Korea by proving the U.S. reneges on its promises.
He told The Associated Press in an interview in New York that if Trump withdraws, Iran would "most likely" abandon the deal as well and would no longer be bound by its international obligations. That would free Iran to resume enrichment activity beyond the limits imposed by the 2015 accord.
Macron told reporters that he and Trump would look at the Iran deal "in a wider regional context," taking into account the situation in Syria. "We have a common objective, we want to make sure there's no escalation and no nuclear proliferation in the region. We now need to find the right path forward," Macron said.
Trump suggested he was open to "doing something" beyond the current Iran agreement as long as it was done "strongly."
On North Korea, Trump told Macron that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wanted to meet "as soon as possible." The president, who once derided Kim as "Little Rocket Man," said he has been "very open" and "very honorable" so far.
Macron, who calls Trump often, has emerged as something of a "Trump whisperer" at a time when the American president's relationships with other European leaders are more strained. Trump, who attaches great importance to the optics of pageantry and ceremony, chose to honor Macron with the first state visit of his administration as he woos the French president.
Trump ended his first year in office without receiving a foreign leader on a state visit, the first president in nearly 100 years to fail to do so. He was Macron's guest last July at the annual Bastille Day military parade in Paris. Macron and his wife, Brigitte, also took Trump and his wife on a tour of Napoleon's tomb and whisked them up in the Eiffel Tower for dinner overlooking the City of Light.
Prominent figures of business and politics attended Tuesday night's administration's first state dinner at the White House.
- The Honorable Jerome Adams, Surgeon General, and Mrs. Lacey Adams
- His Excellency Gérard Araud, Ambassador of France to the United States of America and Mr. Pascal Blondeau
- Mr. Bernard Arnault and Mrs. Hélène Arnault
- Her Excellency Nicole Belloubet, Keeper of the Seals and Minister of Justice
- Mr. Philippe Besson
- His Excellency Jean-Michel Blanquer, Minister of National Education
- The Honorable John Bolton and Mrs. Gretchen Bolton
- Mr. Thierry Breton
- His Excellency Christian Cambon, Senator for Val-de-Marne, President of the Foreign Affairs Committee at the Senate
- Ms. Laurence des Cars
- The Honorable William Cassidy, United States Senator from Louisiana, and Dr. Laura Cassidy
- Mr. Timothy Cook and The Honorable Lisa Jackson
- Mr. Pierre-Olivier Costa
- Ms. Sarah Coulson and Dr. Douglas Bradburn
- Mr. Christian Dargnat
- His Excellency Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs
- Ms. Meghan Duggan
- The Honorable John Bel Edwards, Governor of Louisiana and Mrs. Donna Edwards
- Ms. Laurence Engel
- His Excellency Philippe Étienne, Diplomatic Advisor, G7 and G20 Sherpa of the President of the Republic
- Ms. Barbara Frugier, International Communication Advisor to the Presidency of the Republic
- The Honorable Joseph Hagin
- Mr. David Hamilton and Mrs. Catharine Hamilton
- Mrs. Marillyn Hewson and Mr. James Hewson
- The Honorable Fiona Hill and Mr. Kenneth Keen
- The Honorable Stuart Holliday, former Ambassador for the United States, and Mrs. Gwen Holliday
- The Honorable John F. Kelly and Mrs. Karen Kelly
- The Honorable John Kennedy, United States Senator from Louisiana, and Mrs. Rebecca Kennedy
- The Honorable Henry Kissinger and Mrs. Nancy Kissinger
- Mr. Henry Kravis and Mrs. Marie-Josée Kravis
- The Honorable Lawrence Kudlow and Mrs. Judith Kudlow
- The Honorable Jared Kushner and The Honorable Ivanka Trump
- Ms. Christine Lagarde
- The Honorable Ronald Lauder, former Ambassador for the United States, and Mrs. Jo Carole Lauder
- His Excellency Aurélien Lechevallier, Deputy Diplomatic Advisor, G7 and G20 Sherpa of the President of the Republic
- The Honorable Paul LePage, Governor of Maine and Ms. Lauren LePage
- The Honorable Christopher Liddell and Mrs. Renee Liddell
- His Excellency Bruno Le Maire, Minister of the Economy and Finance
- The Honorable James Mattis, Secretary of Defense
- The Honorable Kevin McCarthy and Mrs. Judy McCarthy
- The Honorable Jamie McCourt, American Ambassador
- Mrs. Ronna McDaniel and Mr. Patrick McDaniel
- The Honorable Stephen Miller
- Mr. Emmanuel Miquel
- The Honorable Aaron Wess Mitchell and Mrs. Elizabeth Mitchell
- The Honorable Steven T. Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury and Ms. Louise Linton
- Dr. Mary Morton and Mr. Keith Forman
- Mr. Rupert Murdoch and Mrs. Jerry Murdoch
- The Honorable Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security and Mr. Chad Wolf
- Her Excellency Florence Parly, Minister for the Armed Forces
- The Vice President of the United States and Mrs. Karen Pence
- Mr. Emanuel Perrotin
- Mr. Thomas Pesquet
- The Most Revered Christophe Pierre, Titular Archbishop of Guneia, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States
- Mr. Hervé Pierre Braillard
- The Honorable Michael Pompeo and Mrs. Susan Pompeo
- The Honorable Dina Powell and The Honorable David McCormick
- General Benoît Puga
- The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States and Mrs. Jane Roberts
- Admiral Bernard Rogel
- The Honorable John F. W. Rogers and Ms. Deborah Lehr
- Mrs. Virginia Rometty and Mr. Anthony Mark Rometty
- The Honorable, Wilbur L. Ross, Junior, The Secretary of Commerce and Mrs. Hilary Ross
- The Honorable Edward Royce, United States Representative from California and Mrs. Maria Royce
- Mr. David Rubenstein and Ms. Gabrielle Rubenstein
- The Honorable, Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and Mrs. Janna Ryan
- The Honorable Sarah Sanders and Mr. Bryan Sanders
- Her Excellency Marielle de Sarnez, National Assembly Member for Paris, President of the National Assembly Foreign Affairs Committee
- Mr. Guy Savoy
- Mr. Stephen Schwarzman and Mrs. Christine Schwarzman
- The Honorable Thomas Shannon, Jr.
- Mr. John Shuster
- Ms. Annette Simmons and Mr. Gerald Fronterhouse
- Mr. Frederick Smith and Mrs. Diane Smith
- The Honorable, John J. Sullivan, Deputy Secretary of State and Ms. Graciela Rodriguez
- Mrs. Julie Sweet and Mr. Chad Sweet
- Mr. Hugo Verges
- Dr. Benedict Wolf and Mrs. Ursula Wolf
The Arrival of the President of France and Mrs. Macron to the State Dinner
Read all the remarks, made by President Trump & President Macron
Remarks by President Trump and President Macron of France at Arrival Ceremony
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much. President Macron, Mrs. Macron, members of the French delegation, and distinguished guests: Welcome to the White House. (Applause.)
Mr. President, Melania and I were honored to visit your majestic country last summer. Now we are thrilled to host you and Brigitte here in America.
The wonderful friendship we have developed over the last year is a testament to the enduring friendship that binds our two nations. It is truly fitting that we are holding our first official state visit with the leader of America’s oldest ally, the proud nation of France.
This morning, we all send our prayers to the Bush family as we wish former President George H.W. Bush a very speedy recovery.
I also want to express our deepest sympathies to the Canadian people following the horrendous tragedy in Toronto that claimed so many innocent lives. Our hearts are with the grieving families in Canada.
Your visit, Mr. President, comes at a critical time for our alliance. Along with our British friends, the United States and France recently took decisive action in response to the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons. I want to personally thank President Macron, the French military, and the French people, for their steadfast partnership. They were absolutely incredible. Thank you very much, Mr. President. Thank you.
The long friendship between the United States and France began 241 years ago this month, when a 19-year-old Frenchman named Lafayette set sail to join America’s fight for independence. He quickly won the trust of George Washington, fought bravely in the battle, and helped secure the aid of France for the American cause. Decades later, President Andrew Jackson wrote that the memory of Lafayette “will be second only to that of Washington in the hearts of the American people.”
The beautiful friendship between the United States and France, forged in revolution, has changed the course of history.
Exactly 100 years ago this spring, Americans fought side-by-side with the gallant French in World War I.
A generation later, in the Second World War, hundreds of thousands of young Americans and Free French sacrificed together to save civilization in its hour of greatest need.
Sixty-thousand American service members rest for eternity beneath the peaceful fields and hills of the French countryside. And in the soil of Virginia and Georgia, French patriots whose names are known only to God lie in unmarked graves.
Today, we meet to affirm this friendship that has flourished as an example to the world for more than two centuries.
Our two great republics are linked together by the timeless bonds of history, culture, and destiny. We are people who cherish our values, protect our civilization, and recognize the image of God in every human soul.
This legacy has made us who we are, and given us what we hold dear: the blessings of faith and freedom; the marvels of art and science; the love of family and community; and the defense of home and country.
This righteous calling, this sacred heritage, is what moved a young Frenchman to risk death for American liberty at Yorktown. It is what spurred the Americans to storm the cliffs of Omaha Beach. It is what drove the farmers of Massachusetts to stand at Concord Bridge, and the citizens of Paris to man the barricades.
And just weeks ago, we added a new name to this chronicle of our great heroes: a brave French policeman named Arnaud Beltrame. Colonel Beltrame stared down evil and did not flinch. He laid down his life for his neighbors, for his country, and for civilization itself. A great man.
And through that immortal deed, a son of France reminded the world of the true measure of our strength.
President Macron, people of France, people of America: Now is the time for strength. So let us be strong. Let us be united. Let us honor our past and face our future with confidence and with pride. And let the United States and France stand forever in solidarity for the noble cause of liberty and peace.
Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT MACRON: (As interpreted.) Mr. President, dear Donald Trump, dear Melania, dear Brigitte, mesdames et messieurs, dear distinguished guests: Thank you for your warm welcome and for honoring France and the Franco-American friendship with his state visit, the first of your presidency, which bears witness to the strength of the centuries-old bond that unites our two countries.
But first of all, please allow me to join your condolences addressed by the French people to the Canadian people, and to express our deepest sympathy to President Bush and his family. It is in this sad moment, as well, and in these terrible circumstances and against these attacks, that we stand together.
Two centuries ago, it was Marquis de Lafayette who was welcomed here, back to the United States, 30 years after the War of Independence. At the time, he spent almost 14 months amongst you. Unfortunately, my stay will be shorter, but it is of special importance to me and to all my fellow citizens who, for a long time, have had powerful and sincere feelings for your people, Mr. President.
“In America, I saw more than America,” wrote Tocqueville. Indeed, in it he acknowledged the shape of democracy itself, an ideal meant to guide our statesmen to inspire the functioning of our institutions and to acknowledge the place of free individuals.
Dear Mr. President, America represents endless possibilities for my country. It brings about hopes that overcome all determinisms and prescribed destinies. It is said that France has renewed with the optimism it sometimes envied the United States. France shares with your country an ideal of freedom and peace.
Over the last centuries, we have weaved our histories through our common struggle where each time, together, we have fought the Western world and aspired to universality.
Through our revolutions, from the very beginning, yesterday evening, we were at Mt. Vernon at the residency of the first President of the United States, George Washington, on whose tomb I wished to pay tribute together with you.
Inside the mansion we saw the key to the Bastille Prison, which was sent to him by Lafayette as a symbol of this unbreakable bond.
Then through our struggles for freedom — this year, as we commemorate the centenary of the end of World War I, I wish to offer you a tree from Wood Belleau, an oak. From these forests, north of my country where, in 1918, U.S. soldiers and Marines, in particular, displayed courage and devotion. I am pleased that this tree that grew close to the famous “Bull Dog” fountain in the soil, where your soldiers shed their blood to defend France, can now take root here at the White House in front of us as a symbol of the sacrifice and the common battles that France and the United States have led together.
These values, inherited and shared by our two countries, are the foundation on which we shall continue to build and write together, side-by-side, the chapters of our modern history. Forge the Western world and aspire to universality such remains our challenge today.
It is together that the United States and France will defeat terrorism. France and America are both confronted to it in various forms on our respective soils in the Levant or in Africa.
It is together that we will counter the proliferation of arms of mass destruction, be it in North Korea or in Iran.
It is together that we shall build a new form of prosperity for all peoples, which means innovation, free and fair trade, and the protection of all middle classes.
It is together that we will be able to act effectively for our planet. I’m not just referring to climate, but also to the oceans, to biodiversity, and to all forms of pollutions. On this issue, we do not always agree as to the solutions, but in the end, such is the case in any family and in any friendship. And it also where the fate of all children is at stake.
It is together that we can resist the rise of aggressive nationalisms that deny our history and divide the world. It is together that we will build a new strong multilateralism that defends pluralism and democracy in the face of ill winds. For our culture, our identity has always been to work for all countries while aspiring to universality.
Our friendship has constantly grown more solid, dipping in the ink of the challenges we have yet to overcome. That is where we stand today. History is calling us. It is urging our peoples to find the fortitude that has guided us in the most difficult of times. France and, with it, Europe and the United States, have an appointment with history. We have but one duty, Mr. President, dear friend, to be at that appointment.
So thank you, Mr. President, and thanks to the First Lady for your invitation and for giving us this opportunity to work together towards that goal, and for giving us an opportunity to express, once again, our friendship.
Long live the United States. Love live France. Thank you. (Applause.)
9:48 A.M. EDT
Remarks by President Trump and President Macron Before Expanded Bilateral Meeting
11:15 A.M. EDT
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much, everybody. Please. We were going to have a short little meeting, and it turned out to be a long meeting, and it could have gone on for another two hours.
We discussed a lot of things, a lot of problems in the world, a lot of problems that we think can be solved. But we’ve come a long way, just the two of us, I think, as understanding. We talked about Iran; we talked about Syria. We talked about a lot of subjects that really are big, big, hard situations. And we think we have solutions to a number of them.
So we’re going to continue that now, and then Emmanuel and myself will meet again, I think, after this meeting. But we wanted to get the opinion of some of the experts in the room. We have great experts on both sides, so we wanted to get the opinion of some of the experts.
Very good numbers are coming out on our businesses. You’re seeing the numbers that are getting released on our companies and our businesses. They’re very strong. The economy has been really incredible. Unemployment, now, is at the lowest point ever in history in many, many states. The states were enumerated last night. Late last night the numbers came out. And we’ve hit the lowest unemployment numbers in many decades, in some cases. And in some cases, the lowest numbers, period.
It was just reiterated that unemployment for African American families — it’s been the best in history. For Hispanic families, the best in history. For women, the best in 18 years. And that’s very close to going much higher than that. So it’s really something very special. So we’re very happy about that.
The President and I are working on trade. The trade with France is complicated because we have the European Union. I would rather deal just with France. The Union is very tough for us. They have trade barriers that are unacceptable. Our farmers can’t send their product into the European Union easily as they should. And we accept their products. So we have to make a change, and they understand that.
And we’re negotiating — Wilbur and Steve and everybody — we’re negotiating with the European Union. But it’s been very unfair for a long time. We had a trade deficit with the European Union of $151 billion last year. That’s unacceptable. This has been going on for many years, and that’s unacceptable.
The Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, will be going to China in a few days to negotiate on trade. I think China is very serious; we’re very serious. And we have no choice but to be very serious. You know we’ve put on very substantial tariffs, and that will continue unless we make a trade deal. I think we’ve got a very good chance of making a deal.
As you know, they’ve just stated — President Xi, a terrific guy and a friend of mine, but he’s representing China, and I’m representing the United States. President Xi made a speech four days ago where he said that China is going to be opened up. Because it’s not opened up right now. They trade with us; we can’t trade with them. They did $504 billion last year, and we did $120 billion. That’s a tremendous imbalance, and we can’t have that. So we’re going to have a delegation, at their request, go to China. They came here recently, and we’re going there. And that’ll be good.
European Union, by the way, we are going back to that. We’re negotiating with the European Union. They had their representatives come here. And I think we’re negotiating very, very seriously.
NAFTA, as you know, is moving along. They have an election coming up very soon, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens with that election. But we’re doing very nicely with NAFTA. I can make a deal very quickly, but I’m not sure that that’s in the best interest of the United States. We’ll see what happens. But we’re doing very well.
In South Korea, on our trade deal, we’re doing very well. And as far as North Korea is concerned, we are going to be having a meeting with Kim Jong-un, and that will be very soon. We have been told directly that they would like to have the meeting as soon as possible. And we think that’s a great thing for the world. That’s a great thing for North Korea and South Korea and Japan and France and everybody.
So we’re having very — very good discussions. Kim Jong-un, he really has been very open and I think very honorable from everything we’re seeing. Now, a lot of promises have been made by North Korea over the years, but they’ve never been in this position.
We have been very, very tough on maximum pressure. We have been very tough on, as you know, trade. We’ve been very, very tough at the border. Sanctions have been the toughest we’ve ever imposed on any country. And we think it will be a great thing for North Korea and it will be a great thing for the world. So we’ll see where that all goes. Maybe it will be wonderful and maybe it won’t. And if it’s not going to be fair and reasonable and good, I will — unlike past administrations, I will leave the table.
But I think we have a chance of doing something very special with respect to North Korea. Good for them, good for us, good for everybody.
And with that, thank you all very much. Mr. President, would you like to say something?
PRESIDENT MACRON: Thank you, Mr. President, for these words. We will have this large meeting with (inaudible) together again before the press conference, just to say we have had very good discussion, indeed, on Syria, on Iran, the overall region, and some other very important topics regarding our security.
And I think we have to work together because we’ve always worked together on these issues, and it’s very important to preserve the stability of this region. And I think what we want to do in the interest of our people is precisely to preserve stability of sovereign states, without any hegemon.
As for the trade issue, you presented your perception of the situation and you were fair to remind everybody that bilateral relationship is balanced between France and the U.S.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: It’s true.
PRESIDENT MACRON: And I think it’s very important to bear in mind that, between allies — I mean, regarding so important security issues, it’s impossible to make any trade war.
We have to deal with common global challenges regarding our trade. One of these global challenges is definitely over-capacities in steel and aluminum. And we have to fix the situation. I think we have now to work fairly on that. We need several discussions and serious discussions, as you mentioned. But I think our willingness is precisely to preserve this multilateral framework, and to work very closely together in the middle interest to deal with this current destabilization of trade situations.
As for the other aspects, we discussed, as well, about the Paris Agreement and our outcome and challenges regarding climate. And I have to say that our business people, our scientists, work very closely together, and we want to increase this cooperation. We know everything about the treaties and the international agreements, but I think beyond that, we have a lot in common to work on and we will follow up this discussion in the coming weeks and months. And now we will have the opportunity to go into details on a lot of these issues.
But thanks very much, again, Mr. President, for the very direct and fruitful discussion we have, you and me, and for the opportunity to discuss with your Vice President and your Secretaries on these issues. Thanks very much.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, we have had a great relationship on just about everything. And too bad it’s not just us doing the negotiating for the rest of the world. But we have had a great relationship.
And our trade situation with France by itself has been very good. The trade product and the trade deals that we do with France — unfortunately, the European Union represents, to a large extent, France — and we’ve had a pretty unfair situation with the European Union, but a very fair one with France. So that will continue. That will always continue.
We will always be very close to, really, our oldest ally, when you think of it. France is our oldest ally. And we will — we are going out of our way to do that.
I think we’ve really had some substantive talks on Iran, maybe more than anything else, and we’re looking forward to doing something. But it has to be done, and it has to be done strongly. And they’ve very much been butchers and we can’t allow that to happen.
So we understand each other, and we’ll see how that comes out. And we could have at least an agreement among ourselves fairly quickly. I think we’re fairly close to understanding each other. And I think our meeting, our one-on-one, went very, very well. I hope you feel the same way.
PRESIDENT MACRON: Definitely.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much, Emmanuel.
PRESIDENT MACRON: Thank you
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you everybody.
Remarks by President Trump and President Macron of France Before Restricted Bilateral Meeting
10:21 A.M. EDT
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Mr. President, they’re all saying what a great relationship we have, and they’re actually correct. It’s not fake news. Finally, it’s not fake news. So it’s a great honor, great honor that you’re here. But we do have a very special relationship. In fact, I’ll get that little piece of dandruff off; you have a little piece. We have to make him perfect. He is perfect. So it is really — it is really great to be with you, and you are a special friend. Thank you.
PRESIDENT MACRON: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much, Mr. President. I want to thank President Trump and your country, your people, for this very warm welcome, this wonderful ceremony.
Indeed we, both of us, just reminded how great our common history is, and that each time we work together in order to protect liberty and freedom and our peace. And we have a lot of challenges ahead of us regarding our two countries — terrorism, security, and a lot of other issues we will discuss. So we have a lot of work to be done together.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Right.
PRESIDENT MACRON: But I’m very honored and very pleased, because whatever the context could be, this relationship is stronger than the events. And on top of it, we have an excellent personal relationship.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: That’s true. That’s true.
PRESIDENT MACRON: So I want to thank you for that.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you.
PRESIDENT MACRON: Thank you, Donald.
Q Mr. President, what would you like to say about Iran during the talk with the President?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, we’ll be talking about Iran, and we’ll be talking about many things — terrorism, generally. But we will be discussing the Iran deal. I know the President wants to speak to me about that. We’ll be discussing, probably, the Paris Accord and various other things.
So we’re going to have — we have not much time to do a lot of discussing, but a lot of things will work out. We have got a very special relationship. I don’t imagine it’s ever been closer in the history of our two countries, and that’s a long and beautiful history.
So we will be talking about a lot of different subjects, but the Iran deal will be one of them, yes.
Q But would you consider staying in the Iran deal?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: We’re going to be talking about it, and we’ll see. I mean, people know my views on the Iran deal. It was a terrible deal. It should have never, ever been made. We could have made a good deal or a reasonable deal. The Iran deal is a terrible deal. We paid $150 billion. We gave $1.8 billion in cash. That’s actual cash, barrels of cash. It’s insane. It’s ridiculous. It should have never been made. But we will be talking about it.
Q Mr. President, what about Michael Cohen? Are you considering a pardon for Michael Cohen?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: All right, thank you very much.
Stupid. Stupid question.
Go ahead. Any other — anybody else? Please.
Q Mr. President, what will you tell the President about the Iran nuclear deal?
PRESIDENT MACRON: (Speaks in French.) What I just said is that the Iran deal is an important issue. We’ll discuss about that. But we have to take it as a part of the broader picture —
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Sure.
PRESIDENT MACRON: — which is security in the overall region. And we have the Syrian situation, we have upcoming election in Iraq, and we have the stability to preserve for our allies in region. And what we want to do is to contain the Iranian presence in the region, and JCPOA is part of this broader picture. Thank you.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: It just seems that, no matter where you go, especially in the Middle East, Iran is behind it, wherever there’s trouble — Yemen, Syria. No matter where you have it, Iran is behind it. And now, unfortunately Russia is getting more and more involved. But Iran seems to be behind everything where there’s a problem, and you just have to take a look. You look at what’s happening, you look at the fighters — Iran is always there. And we’re not going to allow certain things to happen that are happening.
And the Iran deal is a disaster. They’re testing missiles. And what is that all about? You look at the ballistic missiles that they’re going and testing, what kind of a deal is it where you’re allowed to test missiles all over the place? What kind of a deal is it when you don’t talk about Yemen and you don’t talk about all of the other problems that we have with respect to Iran, especially look at what they’re doing in Iraq. You just take a look at what’s happening in any — virtually any place in the Middle East, Iran is behind it.
So what kind of a deal is this where it wasn’t even discussed? And I know John Kerry made the statement that he didn’t want to discuss other things while he was making the deal. Despite all of the money that we gave them, he didn’t want to discuss it because it was too complicated. That’s not the way to do it, because it was too complicated.
So we made this terrible deal, but we’ll be discussing it.
Q The Iranians said they’ll restart their nuclear program if the deal is —
PRESIDENT TRUMP: We’ll find out. You’ll find out about that. It won’t be so easy for them to restart. They’re not going to be restarting anything. If they restart it, they’re going to have big problems — bigger than they’ve ever had before. And you can mark it down. If they restart their nuclear program, they will have bigger problems than they have ever had before.
Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Excuse me?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: You’ll find out.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I’ll answer his question. Number one, they have a great President. He will go down as one of your great Presidents. And number two, we love France and we love the French people. But Emmanuel will go down as one of your great Presidents. That’s what I say to the French people. And they’re lucky. And he’s lucky to have them also.
Remarks by President Trump and President Macron of France in Joint Press Conference
12:47 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much. Thank you. Melania and I are truly honored to welcome French President Macron and Mrs. Macron to the White House. Thank you very much. It’s a great honor.
We’re thrilled that the first official state visit of my presidency is not only with a great friend, but with a leader of America’s oldest ally, the Republic of France. Today, in our nation’s capital, the Stars and Stripes proudly fly alongside the Tricolor flag, a symbol of the world, and to the world, of unity, fraternity, and friendship that forever links our nations together.
Forty years after the end of our War of Independence, the great General Lafayette traveled to George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon to visit the grave of the father of our country. President Macron, we’re deeply moved that nearly two centuries later, the President of the Republic of France made that same tribute last night. That was a beautiful evening. Thank you.
PRESIDENT MACRON: Thank you.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much. This past summer, Melania and I had an incredible visit with you and Brigitte in Paris to celebrate Bastille Day. We were awed by the beauty of your country and the grateful hospitality of your incredible people. They are incredible people.
Together, we commemorated the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into the First World War. We remembered the French and American patriots who shed their blood together in defense of civilization. Their noble sacrifice will echo through time forever, an immortal tribute to our people and to our freedom.
During the horror of the First World War, more than one million people were killed or injured from chemical warfare. In the aftermath of that horror, civilized nations came together to ban chemical weapons.
Two weeks ago, following Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s barbaric use of chemical weapons against his own people, the United States, France, and the United Kingdom joined together to strike at the heart of the Syrian chemical weapons program. These actions were designed to establish a strong deterrent against the use of these heinous weapons.
President Macron, I thank you for your leadership in this effort. And it was a well-executed effort at that. And I thank you and the members of the French military for their courage and their great skill.
The United States and France are also cooperating to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. We are grateful for France’s key partnership in our campaign of maximum pressure on the North Korean regime.
As you know, I will soon be meeting with Kim Jong-un as we seek a future of peace, harmony and security for the whole Korean Peninsula and, in fact, for the whole world.
However, in pursuit of peace, we will not repeat the mistakes of past administrations. The campaign of maximum pressure will continue.
France and the United States also agree that Iran cannot be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon, and that regime must end its support for terrorism all over. No matter where you go in the Middle East, you see the fingerprints of Iran behind problems.
I also want to thank President Macron for France’s vital contribution to our very successful campaign against ISIS. As we drive these ISIS killers from Syria, it is essential that the responsible nations of the Middle East step up their own contributions to prevent Iran from profiting off the success of our anti-ISIS effort. Very rich countries are in the Middle East. They have to make major contributions. They have not been doing it as they should. A major topic that we discussed a little while ago: They have to step up tremendously — not a little bit, but tremendously — their financial effort.
Mr. President, on behalf of the American people, I again express our solidarity in the wake of the terrorist attack in Southern France last month. I share the confidence you conveyed at the memorial service for the heroic Colonel Beltrame that, in time, we will achieve the ultimate triumph of right and of justice.
In the fight against terrorism, we both know that we must be strong from within to defend ourselves from threats outside. We will do what we must to protect our countries. You are our oldest ally and you are truly one of our great allies, and we appreciate it. We will always be there for you.
Both the United States and France are dealing with a challenge that has gone on for a long, long time. It’s uncontrolled migration. In the United States, we are taking strong action to regain control over our borders and over our sovereignty. It’s gone on for too long. And we’ve slowed it down very substantially, but we’re going to stop illegal immigration. I know that you face similar challenges in France. And, Mr. President, I admire the leadership you have shown in addressing them in a very honest and direct fashion, and not always popular.
Both of our elections owe much of the success to the desire of everyday citizens to be heard, to be listened to, and to have control over their own nations and their own futures. Let us demonstrate through our partnership that the voice of the people will always reign. At all times, it will reign.
During our meetings today, we also discussed the robust economic relationship between our countries. The United States is setting records in business, and we will continue. And I know that France will be setting records under your leadership very soon. We look forward to exploring increased opportunities for bilateral trade and investment based on the principle of fairness and, importantly, reciprocity.
Mr. President, thank you again for accepting our invitation to the White House. It’s been such an honor. The foundation of our friendship draws from the deepest wells of civilization and is sustained by our people’s love of their history, culture, and liberty.
For two centuries, the alliance between France and the United States has been the cornerstone of freedom. Now, the strength of this mighty alliance is in our hands. Linked together by fate and destiny, I am confident that our future has never, ever looked brighter.
Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you very much.
PRESIDENT MACRON: Thank you, Donald.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Please.
PRESIDENT MACRON: (As interpreted.) Thank you. Mr. President, dear Donald, thank you to you and to the First Lady for your warm welcome. Please allow me to tell you how pleased we are, together with my wife Brigitte and the whole of the French delegation — how pleased we are to be your guests for three days.
After this wonderful visit and the honor you made — you made it by attending Bastille Day in Paris. In both speeches earlier today, we referred to the deep and ancient bonds between our two countries. These go back to the founding revolution of your country, and have been true through both our histories. These bonds are based upon our deep attachment to freedom and peace. Each time they have been threatened, we stood by one another.
And we celebrated last night, before this, by going to Mount Vernon, given that nobody else could illustrate as well as George Washington the strength of the commitment and the bond between our two countries.
Mr. President, please allow me to go back to a number of issues, which are fundamental for not only our relationship, but beyond. The first topic is Iran. You said once again, in front of the press, what your position was during the campaign and as well as the President of the United States. It’s not a mystery we did not have the same starting positions or stances, and neither you nor I have a habit of changing our stances or going with the wind.
That being said, I can say that we’ve had very a frank discussion on that, just the two of us. You consider that the Iranian deal, the JCPOA — the one negotiated in 2015 with Iran — is a bad deal. For a number of months, I’ve been saying that this was not a sufficient deal, but that it enabled us, at least until 2025, to have some control over their nuclear activities.
We therefore wish, from now on, to work on a new deal with Iran. What we need — and I believe that on that, our discussions allowed us to shed light on our convergence of views — is that we need to cover four topics.
The first one is to block any nuclear activity of Iran until 2025. This was feasible thanks to the JCPOA. The second is to make sure that, in the long run, there is no nuclear Iranian activity. The third fundamental topic is to be able to put an end to the ballistic activities of Iran in the region. And the fourth one is to generate the conditions for a solution — a political solution to contain Iran in the region — in Yemen, in Syria, in Iraq, and in Lebanon.
On these topics, I did not change. I constantly said that we needed to find the framework so that, together, and with the powers of the region, and with the Iranian leaders, manage to find a deal. I therefore would like us to commit to that effect in the weeks and months to come.
This is the only way to bring about stability. France is not naïve when it comes to Iran. We have also a lot of respect for the Iranian people, which, through their history — its history — has always shown its strength.
But we do not want to repeat the mistakes of the past. Each time we tried to unilaterally replace the sovereignty of the people, we brought about some more terror. But for our allies, we want sustainable stability. And I believe that the discussions we’ve had together make it possible to open the way, to pave the way for a new agreement, an agreement on which we will work. And beyond our European partners, we would like to involve the regional powers, and of course, Russia and Turkey.
It is also within this framework, as a matter of finding it together — together, in the long run, we can find a solution to the Syrian situation. In Syria, we are together engaged within the international coalition against Daesh and the terrorists. And we will continue to act until end, within this framework, until victory.
That being said, in the long run, we need to win peace and make sure that Syria does not fall into hegemony in the region. So that effect, the approach — which is agreed — means that we can work, and work on all of the situation — the whole of the situation — in the region, and with these efforts, to contain Iran in the region.
We will continue to work to that effect within the U.N. Security Council to make sure that humanitarian law, the prohibition of chemical weapons are fully complied with. And we will continue to shoulder our responsibilities to that effect. But we will also work with our partners in building a sustainable, political solution, an inclusive one that will prevent any hegemony, and once again will prevent feeding terrorism in the future.
We also talked about the climate. And here, also, we know where we stand. France will continue to work on major pieces, including the global compact for the environment. But I think I can say that our economic — our businesses, our researchers can continue to work on — can create solutions in the field. And we are both attached to that.
Now, on trade, like you mentioned it, and I hear what you said when you call upon fair and equitable trade. When we look at international trade, today we have some common challenges. There are some over-capacities in a number of sectors which are well known, and we shall work together to make sure that this does not destabilize our markets or bring about some unfair competition.
But I believe we can say that we are both attached to make sure that, between allies, there’s compliance with international trade law. At least France is attached to that. We have preferences. There are situations we can probably improve. But I believe that both you and I are also attached — want to make sure that our businesses, our companies, can operate in a long, sustainable, and stable framework.
Mr. President, I meant to mention these few points, which you commented as well. And allow me to say once again that the discussions we’ve had today — the ones we will have tomorrow — are fed not only by the strength of our historical bonds but also by a sincere friendship, which I believe we share.
So thank you once again, Mr. President, Madam, for this extremely warm welcome, for these three days spent with you. And thank you, as well, for being there to meet the challenges which are important for the United States of America, for France, and for Europe, and important for all peoples. Thank you.
(In English.) Thank you. Thank you. (Laughter.)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I like him a lot. (Laughter.)
First of all, I want to thank — I want to thank our Vice President and Karen for being here. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
Now, we had a wonderful conference today, and I think especially the one-on-one in the Oval office — we covered a lot of territory having to do with trade, having to do with Iran, and various other subjects. So I think a lot of good things are going to come out of our meeting, and I appreciate you being here.
I will take a couple of questions. How about Jeff Mason from Reuters? Jeff. Hi, Jeff.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Hi there. After your discussions today with President Macron, what is your thinking about a timeline for bringing U.S. troops out of Syria?
And on one other topic, you mentioned today that you thought the leader of North Korea has behaved openly and honorably. This is someone who many people have accused of starving his people, killing family members. What did you mean when you called him that?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, we will start with your second part of the question. And I hope that we will be able to deal in a very open and honorable fashion with North Korea. I started a process, and when I did, everybody thought I was doing it absolutely wrong. But in the meantime, for 25 years, people have been dealing and nothing happened. And a lot is happening right now. I can tell you that, Jeff. A lot is happening. And I think it’s going to be very positive. And I hope it’s going to be very positive for North Korea and for South Korea, and Japan, and the rest of the world.
But I am starting at a level that, frankly, I shouldn’t have had to start. This should have been worked out a long time ago. This should have been worked out many years ago. We were discussing that we shouldn’t be having this situation happen to the United States and the world. This should have been resolved by other Presidents and by other leaders of other countries a long time ago.
With that being said, I think we’re doing very well. Meetings are being set up. And I want to see denuclearization of North Korea. A lot of concessions have already been made. We have made no concessions, despite some of the media saying that I’ve made concessions. I don’t — I haven’t even discussed a concession other than the fact that meeting is a great thing. And I’m sure that a lot of other people would have liked to have had the position we’re having.
I will say this: We put the strongest sanctions on a country that we ever have put on any country, by far. China, President Xi, has been very strong in helping us to solve this problem — in his case, at the border. He’s allowing very little to get through.
I think he’s doing that for a number of reasons. We have a very good relationship, and also it’s very important in terms of trade, because I do play the trade card. If you look at what’s happening with trade in China, it hasn’t been fair for many, many years to the United States, and we’re going to solve that problem. In fact, we’re having Secretary Mnuchin and a couple of other folks heading over to — Bob Lighthizer — heading over to China, at the request of China. They came here, as you know, last week. And we’re having very substantive discussions on trade.
But I think it all plays to the border and the fact that they have been extremely strong on the border and very little has gotten through, much to the surprise of a lot of people. And I believe the trade will work out, but I also think that China has never treated us with more respect than they have over the last short period of time that I’m President. I have a very excellent, as you know, relationship with President Xi. And I think that relationship is very important as to what’s happening with North Korea.
So the end result is, we’ll see. Maybe good things will happen and maybe we’re all wasting a lot of time. But hopefully it will be good for everybody concerned.
As far as Syria is concerned, I would love to get out. I’d love to bring our incredible warriors back home. They’ve done a great job. We’ve essentially just absolutely obliterated ISIS in Iraq and in Syria. And we’ve done a big favor to neighboring countries, frankly, but we’ve also done a favor for our country.
With that being said, Emmanuel and myself have discussed the fact that we don’t want to give Iran open season to the Mediterranean, especially since we really control it. To a large extent, we really have controlled it and we’ve set control on it. So we’ll see what happens.
But we’re going to be coming home relatively soon. We finished, at least, almost our work with respect to ISIS in Syria, ISIS in Iraq, and we have done a job that nobody has been able to do.
But with that being said, I do want to come home. But I want to come home also with having accomplished what we have to accomplish. So we are discussing Syria as part of an overall deal. When they made the Iran deal, what they should have done is included Syria. When I say “should have” — before giving them, Iran, $150 billion and $1.8 billion in cash — $1.8 million in cash. You think about this. Before giving this kind of tremendous money, okay — $150 billion and $1.8 billion in cash — in barrels, I hear, it was taken out, and in boxes it was taken out — cash — they should have made a deal that covered Yemen, that covered Syria, that covered other parts of the Middle East where Iraq is — where Iran is involved. They didn’t do that.
So we want to come home. We’ll be coming home. But we want to have a very, very strong — we want to leave a strong and lasting footprint, and that was a very big part of our discussion. Okay? Thank you.
Q And just to follow up, if I may, sir. On North Korea, you said you believe in complete denuclearization. What does that mean exactly?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: It means they get rid of their nukes. Very simple. They get rid of their nukes, and nobody else would say it. It would be very easy for me to make a simple deal and claim victory. I don’t want to do that. I want them to get rid of their nukes.
Q And for President Macron, the President referred earlier, in your meetings in the Cabinet Room, to a potential deal between the two of you on Iran. Can you give us a sense of what that might be? And are you confident that you will have assurances from President Trump that the European Union will be excluded from tariffs on steel and aluminum?
PRESIDENT MACRON: Look, as for the second question, it is the President to answer. But I just want here, on the trade issue, to be very clear: When you look at the trade issue between our two countries, they are balanced. There is no unbalanced relationship.
Second, we are following and respecting the WTO rules because we are the one who contributed to the creation of the WTO, and we think it makes sense to respect the rule you decided to create. In general and in life, that’s a good method.
And third, because I do believe that we have a very (inaudible) issue on trade, which is over-capacities in steel and aluminum, it doesn’t come from Europe and not even from France. And it’s good to work together when you are allies, and especially when you work so closely together on security issues like Iran and Syria.
So I’m confident about the future of this trade relationship, as I think it’s part of a broader picture where our interests are totally aligned.
As for the Iranian situation, and I think I detailed in my introduction, for me, the key pillars of this new approach we want to adopt. And it’s exactly what President Trump said. We have nuclear on the short run; we have nuclear on the long run. We have ballistic activity. We have regional presence of Iran. We want to fix the situation for these four pillars.
Syria is part of the fourth one. And what we have to work on, obviously, with Iran and the different parties in the region, the P5 and our allies, is to find a fair deal where we can fix the overall situation. This is the only way to preserve sovereignty in the region and to build peace on the very long run. Otherwise, we will have to come back in the region because of new terrorist groups for sure.
And I’m very happy about the discussion we had together, because we raised very new issues and very new solutions together, and especially the fact that the Syrian crisis and the Syrian situation should be part of this broader picture. And the fact that we are here and we are today in Syria, together as international coalition against ISIS, but tomorrow we will have to find a way to fix the situation from the political point of view, not automatically from a military point of view. Which means, to set up a series of agreements, part of this big deal, in order to be sure that Syria tomorrow will be a sovereign country with inclusiveness and free people in a situation to decide for the future. This is very important and that’s our duty.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: And I think we will have a great shot at doing a much bigger maybe deal, maybe not deal. We’re going to find out, but we’ll know fairly soon.
PRESIDENT MACRON: (As interpreted.) A question from the French press.
Q (As interpreted.) A question from Agence France-Presse on behalf of the French press. As you have (inaudible), Mr. President, you were saying that there was no plan B; that the Iran deal was to be preserved. Now you’re talking about a new deal with Iran. Why did you change your mind? Did you join the strong approach suggested by President Trump? Is it because you could not convince him? And in addition, do you think the others who signed the agreement, the deal, will follow you?
PRESIDENT MACRON: (As interpreted.) When I said there was no plan B, I usually refer to the fact that there is no B planet. It was about climate rather than Iran.
Now, regarding Iran, I’ve always been coherent, and you can go back to what I said at the U.N. General Assembly in September. I always said that there was the JCPOA but we needed to add three pillars post-2025 — the ballistic issue and the regional influence. I do not know what President Trump will decide regarding the JCPOA, and it is his responsibility.
The JCPOA is the first pillar of this framework I just described. So I’m not saying that we’re moving from one deal to another. I’m saying it is one aspect of the problem. I have never been as critical of the JCPOA as President Trump has because I believe that we can usefully add to it.
But no matter the decision that President Trump will take, what I would like is to work, as from now, on a new deal with four pillars, including what is already covered by the JCPOA, that is ongoing nuclear — I mean, the current nuclear activities, the longer nuclear activities, the ballistic activities, and the regional influence
So this is constant. But over the past few weeks and in particular today, we’ve been able to go and to very much talk in details about this topic, including the situation in the region. And I believe that we’ve converged on a common reading on what is happening in Syria, in Yemen, in Iraq, in particular.
And on the fact that the nuclear issue is not the only one, that indeed there is a problem with the ballistic activity of Iran and their presence in a number of countries in the region. And that our willingness was indeed to set the conditions for the stability of the region.
Once we’ve built this convergence of you, the idea of moving on to a new deal that would include the solution for Syria, I believe, is a strong step forward thanks to the discussions we’ve had today.
So I very much would like us to work together with all of our partners. And the ministers of foreign affairs already gathered the small group, and they will be doing it again anytime soon. The purpose is to have some the allied powers — and we amongst them — and of course, also the regional powers, to work at the level of this small group. We also shall have some privileged discussions with Russia and Turkey on regional topics, including Syria. So as from now, we will work using that method in favor — work towards a deal.
I believe we can both combine our common views and our differences, because we are not in a vacuum. I always said we should not tear apart the JCPOA and have nothing else. I think this would be — that would not be the good solution. But once we are placing ourselves in a momentum, the purpose of which is to put together a broad agreement covering the four topics I just mentioned, it’s very different because, first of all, we take on board the concerns and the criticism of President Trump regarding this deal, which, like I said, once again, this deal was supported by a former American administration and previous American administration.
But we can work, and it is also about respecting the sovereignty of the states of the region. It’s not about intervening no matter what. It is rather about building a stable framework that will contribute to stability and to peacebuilding. And I think this is what we’ve been agreeing upon today. It’s not about tearing about an agreement and have nothing, but it’s about building something new that will cover all of our concerns.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: And if I might add, the states and, as I alluded to — and countries that are in the area, some of which are immensely wealthy, would not be there except for the United States and, to a lesser extent, France. But they wouldn’t be there except for the United States. They wouldn’t last a week. We’re protecting them. They have to now step up and pay for what’s happening, because I don’t think France or the United States should be liable for the tremendous cost.
The United States is embarrassingly into the Middle East. As of a few months ago, as you’ve heard me say before — and I don’t take responsibility, but I would be very embarrassed if I had to — $7 trillion. And when we want to build, Mr. President, our infrastructure, everybody says, “Oh, we want to be careful with our money.” When we want to fix a highway or we want to build schools and lots of other things — tunnels, bridges — they say, “Oh, let’s be careful with our money.” And yet, we have spent $7 trillion in the Middle East, and we’ve gotten nothing for it. Nothing. Less than nothing, as far as I’m concerned. That’s over an 18-year period.
The countries that are there that you all know very well are immensely wealthy; they’re going to have to pay for this. And I think the President and I agree very much on that. And they will pay for it. They will pay for it. We’ve spoken to them. They will pay for it. The United States will not continue to pay. And they will also put soldiers on the ground, which they’re not doing. And we will, in fact, bring lots of people home. We will have a strong blockage to the Mediterranean, which to me is very important — because if we don’t, you have Iran going right to the Mediterranean. Not going to have that.
But there is a chance — and nobody knows what I’m going to do on the 12th, although, Mr. President, you have a pretty good idea — but we’ll see. But we’ll see also, if I do what some people expect, whether or not it will be possible to do a new deal with solid foundations. Because this a deal with decayed foundations. It’s a bad deal. It’s a bad structure. It’s falling down. Should have never, ever been made. I blame Congress. I blame a lot of people for it. But it should have never been made, and we’re going to see what happens on the 12th.
But I will say, if Iran threatens us in any way, they will pay a price like few countries have ever paid. Okay?
Yes, John. Please. John Roberts of Fox.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. I have a question for President Macron as well. But if I could to you, sir, first. Your nominee to run the Veterans Affairs Administration, Dr. Ronny Jackson, has run into some serious political headwinds on Capitol Hill with some serious allegations being leveled at him. I’m wondering what you know of those allegations. And do you intend to stand behind him?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I haven’t heard of the particular allegations, but I will tell you he’s one of the finest people that I have met, and I think speaking for Melania, also. He’s been the doctor for President Obama, I believe for President Bush, for me. I’ve gotten to know him pretty well. He’s a great doctor.
And it was a suggestion. Now, I know there’s an experience problem because of lack of experience. But there’s an experience problem — the Veterans Administration is very important to me. We’ve done a great job with it, as you know, with the Accountability Act and many other things. Now we’re working on choice. It’s going to happen. We’re going to take great care of our veterans. That’s a very, very important thing, and we’ve done a great job.
But I told Admiral Jackson just a little while ago, I said, “What do you need this for?” This is a vicious group of people that malign — and they do. And I’ve lived through it; we all lived through it. You people are getting record ratings because of it, so congratulations. But I said, “What do you need it for?” He’s an admiral. He’s a great leader. And they questioned him about every little thing.
As you know, with the success of what will hopefully soon be Secretary of State Pompeo, everybody was very surprised. I heard 10 minutes before the vote yesterday on committee that, “He will not be approved at committee” — which would be the first time in many, many decades that something like that would have happened with regard to a Secretary of State — except I spoke to Rand Paul, and Rand Paul has really never let me down. Rand Paul is a good man. And I knew things that nobody else knew. And Rand Paul said, “I’m going to change my vote,” and he voted, and everybody was surprised. And he actually got an 11-9 vote, because as you know, Johnny Isakson’s vote counts if it isn’t the deciding vote. So it was actually a 11-9 with, I believe, an — there was one vote — what would you call that, John?
Q A present vote.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Not present.
Q No. No. Present.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Oh, it’s called “present.” Okay. So it was 11-9 and that was a terrific thing. But they failed to stop him. So now they say, “Who’s next? Who’s next?” And this person, Admiral Jackson — Dr. Jackson — is a wonderful man. I said to him, “What do you need it for?” And as far as experience is concerned, the Veterans Administration — which is approximately 13 million people — is so big, you could run the biggest hospital system in the world and it’s small time compared to the Veterans Administration. So nobody has the experience.
What he is is a leader and a good man. But I told him — I said, “You know what, Doc? You’re too fine a person.” His son is a top student at Annapolis. He’s a high-quality person. I said, “What do you need it for?” So he’ll be making — it’s totally his decision — but he’ll be making a decision.
But they failed with Mike Pompeo, and that was a big, big hit because they thought they could stop him and embarrass. The Democrats have become obstructionists. That’s all they’re good at. They’re not good at anything else. They have bad ideas. They have bad politics. The one thing they do is obstruct. And that’s why I’m waiting for — you would never believe this — I’m waiting for very good people like the Ambassador to Germany. Hasn’t been approved yet. It’s been in there for 11 or 12 months.
We have Angela Merkel coming to the United States on Friday. We still don’t have our ambassador approved. And at this rate — and many of the papers checked it out yesterday, and they actually said I was right — but it would be nine years before these people are approved. We have hundreds of people in waiting to be approved, and the Democrats are taking 30 hours per person. They’re taking the maximum time. They are obstructions. That’s very bad for our country.
I said to Dr. Jackson, “What do you need it for?” So we’ll see what happens. I don’t want to put a man through who’s not a political person. I don’t want to put a man through a process like this. It’s too ugly and too disgusting. So we’ll see what happens. He’ll make a decision.
Q So are you saying, Mr. President, that you will stand behind him —
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Oh, I would definitely stand behind him. He’s a fine man. I’ll always stand behind him. I’d let it be his choice.
But he is a man who has just been an extraordinary person. His family, extraordinary success. Great doctor. Great everything. And he has to listen to the abuse that he has to — I wouldn’t if I were him. Actually, in many ways, I’d love to be him. But the fact is, I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t do it. What does he need it for? To be abused by a bunch of politicians that aren’t thinking nicely about our country? I really don’t think, personally, he should do it. But it’s totally his — I would stand behind him — totally his decision.
Q And Monsieur le Président, if I could direct a question to you as well. You said that you and President Trump came to some agreement on the way forward in Syria. U.S. troops are really at the heart of any solution. How long, President Macron, do you believe U.S. troops need to stay in Syria? Through the defeat of ISIS? Or do they need to stay through a stabilization period until an alternative to the Assad government is stood up?
PRESIDENT MACRON: First of all, let me say how proud and honored we are to be part of the international coalition today, alongside with the United States troops, in order to fight against ISIS.
We decided to increase our contribution, and we are totally involved in this war against ISIS. And for sure, the very first goal of this intervention and the international coalition on the ground is to finish this work with ISIS and definitely to finish with our enemies. And our enemies are ISIS and the other terrorist group.
Beyond this military presence, and beyond our troops on the ground, we will have to build, as I said, peace — i.e. a new inclusive framework — in order to be sure that certain people will have the opportunity to live in peace — all the different ethnics, all the different religious, all the different groups — and to be sure that there is no hegemony in the region. That’s the diplomatic work that we’ve already started but we have to finish. This is something different.
So I would — if you’ll allow me, I would separate these two issues. We have — we are involved on the ground against ISIS. We will finish this war. And it’s not to open a new war, or to start a new war. But at the same time, we have to open a new war together — that’s what we decided to do — in order to build in the overall region a new framework, and especially in Syria.
We will assess, during the coming weeks and month, what we have to do — because when you’re probably much more at the end of a war, you have to adapt to the enemy and the reality on the ground. So we are not here to say, “This day we will leave the floor.” That’s impossible because it will depend on reality on the ground.
But for sure, what we want to do now is to finish this war with our troops. And we want to fix, on the long run, the situation to have peace in this region. That’s our duty. And it’s not just with our troops. It’s with our diplomats, our teams, our common work, and obviously with all the allies in the region and people involved.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: We’ve pretty much finished with ISIS, and we’re going to be making some big decisions in a very short period of time. But we’re working very closely together with France and with the President. Okay? Thank you very much.
Q (As interpreted.) Mr. President, BFM Television. President Macron, for a year now, you’ve enjoyed a very friendly relationship with President Trump. Quite unusual, compared to the previous Presidents. At the same time, we can see that you do not agree on a number of topics. There are more and more of them. We’ve seen that openly in the Oval Office earlier on Iran. It seems like the initial deal with Iran will not be able to be saved. So what about this relationship? Can it have some concrete impact on France? Can it be beneficial to France and to Europe? You talked about reciprocal interests. Is that really the case today?
PRESIDENT MACRON: (As interpreted.) Yes, definitely. I believe the reason why we enjoy this relationship is because of the relationship between our two countries. Indeed, we have a different background, but it is maybe because we both are not politicians — or typical politicians. And none of us easily change one’s mind. And I think that if you listen to this press conference and watched us, you will have the answer to your question.
Regarding Iran, we have a disagreement regarding the JCPOA, but I think we are overcoming it by deciding to work towards a deal — an overall deal that will enable us to deal with the nuclear issue but also treat it together with another three issues, which were not being dealt with so far.
So should the decision — I mean, we’ve spent more than an hour, just the two of us — and had the conclusions been that the United States of America would walk away from the JCPOA and France would not move, then our friendship would be wasted. But it is about making sure that we’re each taking into account the position and the interests of our reciprocal countries.
It is unprecedented. We’ve never before taken a joint position, a joint stance on Syria the way we did, and on Iran, in favor of a deal that will enable us to cover the four pillars. There is intense work between ourselves and our teams; otherwise we would not be in a position to do as much.
In the past, sometimes France argued that it was time to take action against chemical weapons, and it was — France was not followed by its allies, including the United States at the time. It is not what happened this time. We decided together what was possible and what was not. What was legitimate within an international framework, as two members of the Security Council, and we conducted an unprecedented military intervention at an unprecedented level of cooperation.
And please allow me to pay tribute to our troops, to our armies, and to that of the United Kingdom because we’ve led a unique operation, a proportionate one, and we were able to do so thanks to this relation that we entered.
So on Syria, Iran, the credibility of the international community against the use of chemical weapons — you’ve seen it. You have the evidence that showed that the relationship between our two countries and our friendship enable us to achieve some concrete results. And this is an improvement compared where we stood a couple of weeks ago.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I think that we have very much in common, I must say. I think many things that we — certainly, most things we agreed with, we can change and we can be flexible. You know, in life you have to be flexible. And as leaders of countries, you have to show flexibility. And I think we actually get along on many of the subjects we discussed today.
And I will say, France is a great country. And I believe France will be taken to new heights under this President. He’s going to be an outstanding President. One of your great Presidents. And it’s an honor to call you my friend. Thank you. (Applause.)
1:36 P.M. EDT
Remarks by Vice President Pence and President Macron of France at State Luncheon
Harry S. Truman Building
2:17 P.M. EDT
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: I want to thank our Acting Secretary, John Sullivan, for those stirring words and for his warm hospitality here today at the State Department.
President Macron, Madam Macron, Ambassador McCourt, members of the Cabinet, members of Congress, distinguished leaders and guests from both sides of the Atlantic, you may feel free to be seated. (Laughter.)
It is a great honor for me as Vice President to host you at the State Department today, Mr. President, as we celebrate the enduring friendship between the United States of America and the French Republic. Karen and I are deeply humbled to join you and Madam Macron today with all of these distinguished guests.
Mr. President, it’s no accident that France is the very first nation to be welcomed to the United States for an official state visit under this administration. History attests France was America’s first ally and France was America’s first friend. (Applause.)
And as your visit demonstrates, under President Donald Trump, our cherished bond is only growing stronger. But, Mr. President, it’s also not an accident that you, in particular, are the first leader to receive this high honor. As President Trump said earlier today, the two of you have a wonderful friendship, as evident for all the world to see today.
And it is remarkable to think about the similarities the two of you share. Just like our President, you won an extraordinary victory. You upended the establishment. You’re charting an inspiring new course for your nation.
Just like our President, you’re fighting tirelessly to restore prosperity for your people, enacting bold reforms by cutting regulations and cutting taxes — actions that even now are reviving the economy of France.
And just as President Trump promised to make America great again, you promised to move France forward — En Marche. (Laughter.) And I know that everyone here will join me in applauding the historic progress that you and President Trump are making for both our peoples. (Applause.)
Under President Trump’s leadership of the United States and your leadership of France, our nations are growing ever closer. As President Trump said earlier today in the Oval Office, in his words, he couldn’t imagine it had ever been closer. And your strong personal relationship is a reflection of the bond between our two people.
But as we heard today on the South Lawn of the White House, the vibrant friendship between the President of France and the President of the United States has its roots in American history. Indeed, this morning, you both reflected on a 19-year-old Frenchman who aided America during our revolution. And today, it’s a joy for me to reflect on the story of the great friendship between the Marquis de Lafayette and General George Washington.
As President Trump said this morning, the bond “between the United States and France actually began 241 years ago this month,” when Lafayette set sail for America.
Only weeks after he arrived, Lafayette met George Washington. Lafayette, at age 19; General Washington at age 45. But, there, was forged a bond for the ages. Washington saw in Lafayette leadership qualities and the courage that would make a difference in the Continental Army. And the alliance was born.
For the next four years, Lafayette served at General Washington’s side. He survived the long winter at Valley Forge, he fought the enemy to a standstill at Monmouth, and he led one of the final charges in the Siege of Yorktown that won our war of independence and secured our freedom.
After the war concluded, Lafayette returned to France to advance the cause of liberty in your homeland. And as you mentioned on the South Lawn today, last night at Mt. Vernon, you saw firsthand the key to the Bastille that Lafayette would return to America and present to General Washington as a sign of his enduring admiration and the strong bond between our two people.
Ultimately, those two great men shared a love of liberty, and to this day, freedom, liberty is the cord that binds the United States and France together, as allies and as friends.
Though we’re separated by an ocean, freedom unites our nations in common purpose. Though we speak different languages, freedom gives our people a common tongue. And though our two nations have charted our own distinct courses over all the years, freedom gives us a common future — a future that we are forging even today.
The shared love of liberty is why France and the United States stand together with our NATO allies to ensure a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace. It’s why our citizens and our soldiers have stood shoulder-to-shoulder together in a fight against the barbarians of ISIS, and worked together to cut out the cancer of radical Islamic terrorism that threatens civilization itself.
And it’s why, earlier this month, the United States and France, together with the United Kingdom, took decisive action to cripple the chemical weapons program of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. And, President Macron, on behalf of President Trump and the American people, let me say once again: Thank you for your leadership and thank you for the brave and capable men and women of the French Navy. La Royale did an extraordinary job. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT MACRON: Thank you.
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: In times like this, in the life of both of our nations, it is heartening. It is heartening to stand with a friend who shares our most cherished values and who — a friend also who has the strength and the will to stand with our strong President to defend our way of life and our values. And we know that friend is France.
I couldn’t help but think, as you and President Trump planted a tree on the lawn of the White House yesterday, of the metaphor of a long and enduring relationship. And let me just say, in the words of the Psalmist, may this relationship grow “like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, and produces its fruit in season whose leaf also does not wither.”
So today, on behalf of our President, on behalf of the American people, I offer a toast — a toast to President Macron, to President Trump, to the good people of both of our nations. May our friendship grow even stronger and may we never grow weary as we work together to forge a future of freedom and peace in our time.
God Bless you, Mr. President. God bless France. And God bless the United States of America. À votre santé. (Laughter.) (A toast is offered.)
PRESIDENT MACRON: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Ladies and gentlemen, President Macron. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT MACRON: (As interpreted.) Mr. Vice President, Madam Pence, Secretary of State, Madam Rodriguez, members of the American Congress and of the French Parliament, ladies and gentlemen: It is for Brigitte and myself an immense honor, as well as for the whole of our delegation, to be together with you today in this temple of American diplomacy — a diplomacy which has for a long time been close to France.
You both reminded us, Mr. Vice President and Secretary of State — reminded us of the deepness of our bonds as illustrated by our contact with President Trump since we arrived yesterday. We’ve always been there for one another. When it was about building a new, free country, some young French men came to support it because they’d found about the values of the United States. When, on both sides of the oceans, it was about defending that freedom, you joined us on the occasion of the First, as well as the Second World War, where you stood with us to defend our values and this joint destiny.
And along these centuries, your diplomacy — and I apologize to the military present here — our defense is great because our diplomacy is great, and they strengthen each other. Your diplomacy has constantly been working with ours in order to build a coherent approach of the world.
In this place, some major events for our modern peace have been prepared for or agreed upon. And this is, in particular, based on the friendship between our two countries, which has contributed to forging this Western world based on democracy, the freedom of individuals, and enable us to build the international order that we know. It is based upon a balance, always fragile, because it relies on the powers and counter-powers, and what each and every one does. But it is an indispensable balance for the world.
An economic, financial, political order has been put together after the Second World War. Is it perfect? Probably not. Can it be improved? Definitely. Have we seen anything better? I do not think so.
This order that we built, which your diplomacy contributed to, is the one which is, in the name of all values, from the United Nations, to the IMF and the World Trade Organization, and thanks to all of the international organizations we’ve put together, this order enables us to enjoy the framework for all cooperation and for defending our values. And this is what we’re here to defend today.
I will talk about it further tomorrow, when I take the floor before the Congress. It is an honor for France, and I shall thank your country and President Trump for that. And I will say it once again: I believe in a modern multilateralism — a strong one which knows how to be respected, how to build peace, foster peace, and foster jobs as well. It’s not about endless regulations; neither is it about a new framework within which we would give up on the values on everything we’ve taken so much time to build.
So in this place, which is so important for the history of your country, as well as the history of our relationship, I’m well aware that I’m talking to leaders in a place where a lot of our future will be decided.
I also would like to say a few words about our economic relations. Today are here with us many men and women who very much are (inaudible) thanks to their investments of our economic bonds. And the United States of America, as a matter of fact, is the first foreign investor in France, and it is also the first country where French businesses invest.
In total, it is $100 billion in goods and services that we exchange every year. It is, therefore, a relationship based upon the strength of our economic relation. Because there’s always something more than the economy between our two countries, because it is our vision of the world, our values, our joint ambition. From distribution to finance, the energy sector, the defense sector, research, education, scientific cooperation, we have this strong bond.
Over the past few months, we implemented, on both sides of the ocean, some major reforms which have brought about some new momentum to these exchanges.
Since 2017, the United States is once again the first source of foreign investment in France, and I’m very pleased about it and would like it to continue. And I’m very pleased that some of you have, over the past few weeks and even today, have announced some huge investment in France in the field of tourism, the media, intelligence artificial — artificial intelligence — financial sector, the pharmaceutical sector as well. And I would like us to continue to work to that end.
Investments — investing in a business; investing in human capital through education and training — this is absolutely indispensable for us to succeed. In France, we’ll continue to implement reforms and to transform the country in order to make it even more competitive so that, within the European Union, we can shoulder all of our responsibilities and support the necessary reforms in the coming months, and continue — in education, in culture, in research, and in the business sector — continue to be the leader that we are, in order to continue to be this counterpart that we’ve been to the United States for a long time.
Of course, it is about creating new jobs for all peoples, in particular our middle classes; it is about also facing up to the coming challenges. The energy transformation, as well as the digital transformation, everything that will be required in terms of intelligence — artificial intelligence — the changes that it will bring about, our ability to attract talents. And we will have to work to make sure that it is still possible, because we know how to defend this peace that we cherish together.
And be it about the international order or the economic order we believe in, we can only keep them if we constantly reinvent them by managing to convince on a daily basis our fellow citizens that this is the right thing for them. There can be no success detrimental to our peoples, and I know that we cannot succeed without protecting and continuing to cherish values. This is against this background that we will face up to the challenges ahead of us, be they political or economic.
But I’m aware that, in this city, and together with you, Secretary of State, Mr. Vice President, and together with President Trump, we have reliable allies, we have one historical ally — which means that any disagreement we may all have at some point in time will not overcome the strength of history, the weight of our duty, and the values that we’ve been sharing.
So please allow me to raise my glass to this house, to your diplomacy, to all of our guests who are keeping alive the relationship, the economic relationship between our two countries. I raise my glass to your President, to your people, to the friendship between the United States of America and France.
Santé. Cheers. (A toast is offered.) (Applause.)
2:37 P.M. EDT