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French President Emmanuel Macron speaks at a joint meeting of the US Congress
Image: Getty Images/C. Somodevilla

French President Emmanuel Macron rocks Congress

Andy Valvur
April 25, 2018

French President Macron addressed a joint session of Congress and said he hoped the United States would someday come back to the Paris Climate agreement. He dwelt on a long, common history between France and the US.


Macron addresses US Congress

French President Emmanuel Macron hit on the issues of climate change, nationalism, trade and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in his speech to a joint session of US Congress, calling on the United States to engage more with the world.

After what has been seen as a friendly state visit to Washington, Macron's speech laid out a view of global leadership starkly different from US President Donald Trump's "America First" strategy.

Read more:  Opinion: Bravo Emmanuel Macron!

What Macron said to Congress

  • Criticized Trump's isolationist stance: "We can choose isolationism, withdrawal and nationalism ... but closing the door to the world will not stop the evolution of the world."
  • Emphasized climate change is real: "Let us work together in order to make our planet great again ... There is no Planet B."
  • Encouraged US to come back to the Paris Agreement. 
  • Warned of fake news threat: "Without reason, without truth, there is no real democracy because democracy is about true choices and rational decisions."
  • Praised US-French relations and history: "The American and French people have had a rendezvous with freedom."
  • Made assurances about Iran nuclear deal: "Iran shall never possess any nuclear weapons. Not now. Not in five years. Not in 10 years. Never."

At a press conference later, Macron said he believed Trump would pull the US out of the Iran deal.

"We have disagreements between the United States and France. It may happen, like in all families," the French president said.

Macron talks climate change in speech to Congress

How US politicians saw the speech

After bringing US legislators to their feet numerous times during his speech, reactions came in via social media:

  • The second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin, said: "I loved it. He started off very slowly and he built it to two powerful issues that he couldn't avoid: climate change and the Iran nuclear agreement."

  • House Democrat Adam Schiff said that Macron had offered "more of a direct contradiction of the president than I was expecting. There were more than a few uncomfortable moments on the GOP side of the aisle."

  • Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he didn't feel Macron had rebuked President Trump. "He said in there that he believes in free and fair trade. That's exactly what the president asked for."

  • US Vice President Mike Pence tweeted appreciation for Emmanuel Macron:

av/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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