Emmanuel Macron will urge US to keep troops in Syria during US state visit

French president will also warn about dangers of America abandoning Iran nuclear deal

Colin Drury
Monday 23 April 2018 10:34
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Trump handshake with Macron goes on forever

French president Emmanuel Macron will urge his US counterpart Donald Trump not to pull American troops out of Syria during this week's state visit to Washington.

The French leader will warn that withdrawing forces from the war-torn country could create a wave of global terror.

Speaking ahead of his three-day trip, Mr Macron told Fox News: “If we leave, we leave the floor to the Iranian regime, Bashar al-Assad and these guys, and they will prepare the new war. They will fuel the new terrorists.”

His stark message came little more than a week after US-led airstrikes in which France participated, destroyed chemical weapons facilities in the country in response to an alleged gas attack by the Syrian government on civilians in Douma.

Mr Trump caused alarm in Paris by regularly repeating his intention to pull America’s estimated 2,000 ground troops out of the country.

Last month he stated that military personal would “be coming out of Syria like very soon.” Days later, he was reported as saying: “I want to get out, I want to bring the troops back home, I want to start rebuilding our nation.”

The leaders will also discuss the Iranian nuclear deal, which seeks to limit the Middle East country’s nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief.

Mr Macron will urge Mr Trump – who has repeatedly threatened to walk away from the agreement – to stick with it.

He said he agreed that more needed to be done to rein in Tehran’s development of ballistic missiles and its perceived meddling across the Middle East.

Emmanuel Macron

But he asked: “What is the plan B? I don’t have any plan B for nuclear against Iran. My point is to say don’t leave now…as long as you don’t have a better option for nuclear.”

He added: “Let's present this framework because it's better than the sort of North Korean-type situation.”

The state visit – which, unusually, will see the two leaders dine together twice – will build on an unlikely and intriguing relationship between the two men.

At their first meeting in Brussels in May last year, the two engaged in an apparent battle of wills in the form of a white-knuckle handshake in front of cameras.

That handshake: Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump

When the pair met in Paris last July, a similar battle of wills lasted more than than 30 seconds.

But they appear to have become close during these meetings, apparently enjoying each other’s company and tending to find common political ground.

Asked about their similarities, Mr Macron said: “Both of us are probably the maverick of the systems on both sides. I think President Trump’s election was unexpected in your country and probably my election was unexpected in my country. And we are not part of the classical political system."

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