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France: Emmanuel Macron hosts Trump for Bastille Day pomp

Emmanuel Macron is spending this Bastille Day with US President Donald Trump a day after wrapping up a joint cabinet session with Angela Merkel and her ministers. The new president's Paris is on full display for all.

After a difficult 2016, Europe is looking good again, particularly in France, where new President Emmanuel Macron received his US counterpart, Donald Trump, with a firm, self-confident handshake on Thursday, just as he had in their manual tug-of-war during their first meeting at this spring's NATO summit.

Political symbolism is one of Macron's strengths. And now, just days after the G20 summit in Hamburg, he and his wife, Brigitte, have dined with the US president and first lady Melania Trump at Le Jules Verne, the Michelin-starred restaurant inside the Eiffel Tower - once again showing off the best of what France has to offer.

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Germany and France pledge closer cooperation

Macron appears eager to confront the US president without making him feel excluded. And the strategy seems to be going over well with Washington. "Trump is excited; the First Lady is excited," a White House adviser told the French daily Le Figaro on Thursday. "It's wonderful to visit a couple like the Macrons in Paris."

Bastille Day in Paris, 2013

As usual, France's military might will be on full display for Bastille Day

The day-and-a-half trip to Paris also has its advantages for Trump, who faces storm clouds of scandal back home.

And, for practical purposes, both presidents are keen to emphasize the topics on which they have common ground. Macron wants to increase defense spending, and that's something that Trump would like to see France do. "We have shared goals: the fight against terrorism, and the protection of vital interests," Macron said. In other areas, cooperation looks less likely - climate protection is one of those.

Macron is also advancing cooperation within the European Union. Delegates at Thursday's Franco-German summit in Paris have called for closer cooperation between their countries. They want to push a common EU defense policy, for one example, and to ensure that students in France and Germany learn their neighboring country's respective language to increase opportunities for cross-border collaboration and employment.

They have less common ground when it comes to the EU budget and solidarity mechanisms for poorer members states. Macron will need to draw on more than symbolism in these areas.

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