Emmanuel Macron to urge Donald Trump to keep US in Syria during White House talks

Emmanuel Macron to urge Donald Trump to keep US in Syria during White House talksEmmanuel Macron will urge Donald Trump to keep America engaged in Syria for the long run on Tuesday as the pair meet for face-to-face talks in the White House.  The French president is expected to warn that new terrorist threats could emerge if the US disengages from the country as it remains locked in civil war.  The White House has confirmed a “way ahead in Syria” will be discussed in what officials predicted will be a “full and free airing of points of view” with Mr Macron.  America’s Syrian policy is up in the air as Mr Trump balances his instinctive opposition to foreign intervention with a determination to police a “red line” over chemical weapons use.  Mr Trump said last month that US troops would withdraw from Syria “very soon”, only to be convinced by advisers to stay for the time being to defeat the last remaining Isil fighters.  Emmanuel Macron arrives in America, becoming the first world leader to enjoy a US state visit under Donald Trump Credit: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin Then just weeks later the US president sanctioned air strikes on Syrian regime facilities alongside Britain and France to punish Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian dictator, for a chemical weapons attack.  Mr Macron, who arrived in Washington DC on Monday for a three-day state visit, was said to have played a central role in convincing Mr Trump to approve the strikes.  Emmanuel Macron holds hands with wife Brigitte Macron as they arrive at Andrews Air Force Base Credit: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin He has since lobbied for the US to remain for the long-term in Syria. Mr Macron said recently he had “convinced” Mr Trump “it was necessary to stay” – a comment pushed back by the White House.  Mr Macron also used a Fox News interview on Sunday to declare that pulling out of Syria would “leave the floor to the Iranian regime” and Assad, adding: “They will fuel the new terrorists.” The Macrons were scheduled to dine with the Trumps on Monday night at Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington Credit: AFP PHOTO / LUDOVIC MARIN The US president has repeatedly criticised US involvement in the Middle East, saying that America has got “nothing” from the trillions of pounds spent in the region in the last few decades.  However he has boasted of outdoing his predecessor Barack Obama by responding with military force when the Assad regime crossed a “red line” over chemical weapons use.  A decision over future Syrian engagement has become more pressing amid Russian media reports that the Kremlin is considering further arming Assad’s forces.  The Kommersant newspaper quoted diplomatic and military sources as saying that Russia was planning to give S-300 surface-to-air missiles to the Syrian government in the “near future”. The move would anger Israel, which helped quash a similar move in 2013, and increase volatility in the region. Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said on Monday that no final decision had been taken.  French first lady Brigitte Macron and US first lady Melania Trump listen as US President Donald Trump speaks with French President Emmanuel Macron at Mount Vernon Credit:  LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP Mr Macron was given a red carpet welcome as he arrived with his wife Brigitte, becoming the first world leader to get a US state visit under Mr Trump. The French president said it was a “great honour” as he touched down in the US.  Mr Macron was due to have a private couples dinner with the Trumps at Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, America’s first president, on Monday night.  Mr Macron and Mr Trump will have a one-on-one meeting in the Oval Office on Tuesday, followed by talks with a wider group of aides and then a press conference.  As well as Syria, the two leaders are expected to discuss the Iran nuclear deal, US steel tariffs on the EU and the Paris climate change agreement.  On Tuesday night Mr Macron will be served goat cheese gateau followed by a rack of spring lamb and then nectarine tart infused with White House honey at a state dinner.  Mr Macron will also be given a “review of the troops” with 500 US soldiers in attendance, mirroring a military march that Mr Trump attended during his Paris visit.  The French president, who has become one of the world leaders who enjoys the best relationship with Mr Trump, is under pressure to convert his influence into tangible policy changes.  Emmanuel Macron has built a strong working relationship with Donald Trump after clashing with him before being elected French president Credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque Gilles Platret, spokesman for the French opposition conservative Republicans party, said Mr Trump was “using” Mr Macron to “try and find some respectability on the international stage”.  He told Sud Radio: “It serves the interests of Mr Macron who loves all that shines. Red carpets suit him well. But what are the concrete results? Is it in France’s interests? That’s still a question that is out there.” Benjamin Griveaux, the French government’s spokesman, played down the closeness of the relationship between Mr Trump and Mr Macron.  “I don’t think they are buddies. The goal is not to have affectionate relations, but to establish some sort of personal connection,” he said.


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