Trump and Macron’s friendship tree dies

Symbol of ‘ties that bind us’ has not survived quarantine – making for a timely and unfortunate metaphor

Jon Sharman
Monday 10 June 2019 16:13
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Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron plant tree at White House

The oak tree planted by Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron as a symbol of the ties between their countries has died, according to reports.

The gift to commemorate the US Marine Corps’ actions during the Battle of Belleau Wood in the First World War was supposed to be “a reminder at the White House of these ties that bind us”, according to Mr Macron.

The tree was brought from the site where American forces suffered nearly 10,000 casualties in June 1918, including 1,800 killed.

Any living organisms imported to the US have to be quarantined for safety checks, so the tree was taken away to be inspected soon after it was ceremonially planted at the White House south lawn in April.

But the sapling has since died, according to multiple reports in French media.

The unfortunate metaphor comes at a time when relations between Mr Trump and his French counterpart are somewhat strained, the pair having clashed on climate change, Iran and Europe’s military.

Mr Trump and Mr Macron met most recently at a commemoration of D-Day’s 75th anniversary in Normandy.

The European leader told his opposite number: “Your country is never so great as when it fights for universal values.”

And extolling the value of international institutions, he added: “We shall never cease to perpetuate the alliance of free peoples.

“That is what the victorious sides did, when they created the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. That is what the leaders of Europe did in bringing about the European Union.”

While the leaders’ prior backslapping camaraderie was briefly in evidence – they shared a hug – they appeared more tense at a one-on-one meeting later in the day.

Le Monde first reported the demise of the tree, while Le Figaro said it had corroborated the claims over the weekend. The Agence France Presse news agency cited a diplomatic source.

The Independent has contacted the White House for comment.

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