US president Donald Trump, under fire at home over Russian connections and abroad over climate change and trade, arrived in Paris on Thursday seeking common ground with France’s new leader Emmanuel Macron.

After a bumpy start to relations, the two men both have incentives to improve ties – Mr Macron hoping to elevate France’s role in global affairs, and Mr Trump, seemingly isolated among world leaders, needing a friend overseas.

Mr Trump comes to France beset by allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US election. Emails released on Tuesday suggest his eldest son welcomed Russian help against his father’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

Weeks after Mr Macron hosted Russian president Vladimir Putin at the Palace of Versailles, Mr Trump will bask in the trappings of the Bastille Day military parade on Friday and commemorations of the entry 100 years ago of US troops into the first World War.

US President Donald Trump Arrives In France On Two-Day Visit
US President Donald Trump Arrives In France On Two-Day Visit

Talks will focus on shared diplomatic and military endeavours, but an Elysee official said Mr Macron would not shy away from trickier issues. Mr Trump has made few friends in Europe with his rejection of the Paris accord on climate change and “America First” trade stance.

Mr Macron’s aides say he does not want Mr Trump to feel backed into a corner.

“What Emmanuel Macron wants to do is bring Trump back into the circle so that the United States, which remains the world’s number one power, is not excluded,” French government spokesman Christophe Castaner told BFM TV.

On his arrival in Paris, Mr Trump headed straight to the US ambassador’s residence where he will lunch with top US military brass before meeting Mr Macron at the Hotel des Invalides, a grand 17th century complex where Napoleon Bonaparte and other war heroes are buried.

They will later dine with their wives at a restaurant on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower. The Elysee official said the symbolism was clear: “Paris is still Paris.”

During the US election campaign, Mr Trump declared that a wave of militant attacks showed “France is no longer France”, urging the French to get tough on immigration and jihadists.

This year’s July 14th celebrations come a year after a Tunisian man loyal to Islamic State ploughed a truck through a crowd of revellers on a seafront promenade in the Riviera city of Nice, killing more than 80 people.

A White House official on Tuesday said Mr Trump and Mr Macron would discuss the civil war in Syria, where Islamic State is defending its last major urban stronghold of Raqqa, and counter-terrorism.

For Mr Macron, France’s youngest leader since Napoleon two centuries ago, the visit is a chance to use soft diplomacy to win Mr Trump’s confidence and set about influencing US foreign policy, which European leaders say lacks direction.

“I have no doubt that the presidents will talk about the state of military actions in Syria and they will talk about the future,” the Elysee official said.

“Macron has said before that military action is not enough, we have to plan for development and stabilisation.”

Beyond Syria and the Middle East, the Elysee said Mr Macron would also press Mr Trump for more support in financing a new West African military force to battle Islamic militants in the Sahel, where France wants to wind down its troop presence.

In bringing Mr Trump to Paris, Mr Macron has stolen a march on Britain’s embattled prime minister Theresa May.

London’s offer of a state visit for Mr Trump met fierce criticism and warnings that he would be greeted by mass protests.

An Elabe poll showed that 59 per cent of French people approved of Mr Macron’s decision to invite Mr Trump.

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