For Sunday’s armistice anniversary, Trump was to join world leaders at a ceremony in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe.
“It should be a very beautiful period of time, the 100th anniversary of the ending of World War I. We have many countries — the leadership from many countries will be there, especially since they heard the United States will be there. And we look forward to that,” Trump told reporters Friday before leaving the White House.
“I’ve seen what they have planned, and I think it’s going to be something very, very special.”
Trump originally wanted to celebrate Veterans Day on Sunday with a grand military parade in Washington, as he was inspired by the tanks and flyovers he saw during France’s Bastille Day celebration when he visited Paris in July of last year. Trump ordered the Pentagon to come up with plans for his own version, but they were eventually scrapped over concerns about costs and the damage tanks weighing many tons would do to the streets in Washington.
Trump and Macron’s early relationship was marked by kisses, frequent meetings and marathon power handshakes. Early on, Macron tried to position himself as a sort of “Trump whisperer” and Trump returned the favor, hosting Macron at the first and only state dinner of his presidency. But the relationship-building failed to persuade Trump to remain in the global climate change or Iran deals and did nothing to protect France from U.S. tariffs.
The dividends of Macron’s cultivation of Trump are “modest at best,” said Stewart M. Patrick, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. At the same time, Macron has increasingly been positioning himself as a bulwark against the rising tide of Trump-style populism across Europe, speaking out loudly against the dangers of nationalism and isolationist retreat.
“He’s starting to become the antithesis of President Trump’s public messaging,” said Heather Conley, director of the Europe program at Center for Strategic and International Studies. The president and first lady Melania Trump were expected to visit several memorial sites in France that are dedicated to American service members. Not on Trump’s schedule, despite earlier discussions about the possibility, was an extended meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I don’t know that we’re seeing each other in Paris, but we may,” Trump said. “There may be a lunch for the leaders.”
The White House and the Kremlin had previously considered a formal meeting in Paris. That now seems more likely for later this month, when they attend the Group of 20 summit of international leaders in Argentina.
Trump and Putin have met previously on the sidelines of two summits and had their own bilateral meeting in July in Helsinki. At that meeting, Trump would not say whether he believed Putin or U.S. intelligence agencies about their conclusions about Russia’s interference with the 2016 presidential election.