Macron mounts damning repudiation of Trump policies in Congress

French president predicts US to rejoin Paris accord on last day of state visit to Washington

During his state visit to the White House, French President Emmanuel Macron found a kinship with US President Donald Trump. Footage: White House

 

A day after Emmanuel Macron was ceremoniously welcomed by Donald Trump at the White House, the French president launched a damning repudiation of many of the US president’s policies in a speech to the US Congress.

Addressing a special joint session of the houses of Congress on the final day of this three-day state visit to Washington, Mr Macron predicted the US would rejoin the Paris climate accord, and reworked one of Mr Trump’s key campaign slogans by calling on the US to “make the planet great again”.

Mr Macron began by thanking Mr Trump and his wife “for this wonderful invitation to my wife and myself”, which he said reflected “the continuity of our shared history in a troubled world”.

He spoke of the affinities between the two countries during the early days of independence in the late 18th century and during the two world wars.

But he went on to deal with some of the most contentious issues preoccupying America and the world, including climate change and the threat of nuclear war.

Predicting that the US would rejoin the Paris climate accord, which Mr Trump abandoned last July, Mr Macron said there was “no Planet B”.

Packed chamber

“I believe in offering a better future for our children by offering them a planet that is still habitable in 25 years. I am sure one day the United States will come back and join the Paris agreement,” he told the packed chamber.

“What is the meaning of our lives, really, if we live and work, destroying the planet . . . destroying opportunities for our children and grandchildren?” he continued, prompting rousing applause from the Democratic side of the chamber.

He raised the issue of “fake news” during his address, noting that “without reason, without truth, there is no democracy”. He criticised the purveyors of fake news for feeding “ever-growing fear and imaginary risks”. Nationalism and isolationism, he warned, posed a grave threat to democracy.

On the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Mr Macron again raised the prospect of forming a more “comprehensive deal” which would encompass four “pillars”.

“Our objectives are clear. Iran shall never possess any nuclear weapons – not now, not in 5 years, not in 10 years – never.” But he added: “We signed it at the initiative of the United States. We signed it, both the United States and France. That is why we should not say we should get rid of it like that.”

He said that, while it was true to say that this agreement “may not address all concerns, and very important concerns… we should not abandon it without having something substantial instead”.

Mr Macron also raised the issue of North Korea, saying France supported US efforts at dialogue.

“France supports fully the United States’ [efforts] to bring Pyongyang through sanctions and negotiations to the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.”