Trump-Macron friendship tree dug up and checked for parasites | News | DW | 30.04.2018
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Trump-Macron friendship tree dug up and checked for parasites

French officials say a tree President Emmanuel Macron planted with his US counterpart on the White House lawn has been put into quarantine. It's standard policy for plants and animals brought into US territory.

Last week, photographs circulated showing US President Donald Trump and France's Emmanuel Macron, a close ally, shoveling dirt over a young sapling as their wives looked on.

The oak had originally sprouted at the site of the World War I Battle of Belleau Wood in northern France, where about 2,000 US troops died fighting the Germans in 1918, and Macron wanted his counterpart to have the sapling on the occasion of his state dinner.

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Concerns arose over the weekend, however, after White House photographers discovered that the presidential friendship tree had disappeared from the garden. A pale patch of grass now covers the spot where the symbol of the men's bond was meant to grow.

"It is in quarantine, which is mandatory for any living organism imported into the US," Gerard Araud, France's ambassador to the US, wrote late Sunday on Twitter. "It will be replanted afterwards."

Over several subsequent tweets, Araud sparred with users who pointed out that quarantining a tree after planting it was the opposite of a precaution and that Macron's oak could possibly have already transferred European blight and parasites to the US's flora — including the White House's pricey plants. The diplomat wrote, more than once, that officials had packed the roots in plastic.

On Monday, an official in Macron's office told reporters that Trump had insisted on planting the tree last week despite knowing full well that it would have to be uprooted. "It was actually a special favor from Trump to France to be able to plant the tree the day of the president's visit," the official said. "Don't worry," he added, "the tree is doing very well."

mkg/rt (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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