French President Emmanuel Macron left his "good friend" Donald Trump looking uncomfortable as he patted the US president's knee when the pair met at Elysee Palace for the first time since a row exploded over the French leader's plan for a European army.
Trump frowned and kept his distance from Macron during the encounter that took place after he took his host to task for a "very insulting" comment the French president made about the need for Europe to build an army as a check on the United States.
It was only after the leader's warm remarks at the beginning of the meeting on Saturday morning that Trump appeared to respond to Marcon's hospitality.
He told his French counterpart that he and first lady Melania Trump had been "beautifully received" at Orly airport as he commended Macron for his "graciousness" as he recollected that they had become "very good friends" who have discovered they have "much in common" in the year and a half since his counterpart took office.
Trump explained that the U.S. would like to assist Europe with its security obligations, so long as the costs are reasonably distributed, and that's why he's pushed so aggressively for America's allies to increase their contributions to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
"We want to help Europe, but it has to be fair. Right now, the burden sharing has been largely on the United States, as the president will say, and he understands that," Trump stated. "And he understands that the United States can only do so much, in fairness to the United States."
Macron told him that he agrees. "But it's unfair to have the European security today being assured just by the United States, and we need a much better burden sharing," he said. "That's why I do believe that we need more European capacities, more European defense, in order to take this part of the burden."
Trump had begun the short trip to Paris for an event commemorating the end of the first major conflict between nations by laying into Macron for his European army proposal but had calmed down by the time they met Saturday for extended talks.
The U.S. president told Macron as they began a series of meetings that he appreciates France's willingness to pay more for its defense.
"We have much in common in many ways — perhaps more ways than people would understand," he assessed. "We're very much similar in our views. And I appreciate what you're saying about burden sharing."
Macron began the session telling Trump in French that he was "very delighted" to have him in Paris again and they would be discussing the 'strategic capability of Europe' and its desire to take on a larger role in NATO.
"I do share President Trump's views that we need a much better burden sharing within NATO, and that's why I do believe that my proposals for European defense are totally consistent with that, because it means more Europe within NATO, more capacity, in order to take our part of the burden. And I think it's very fair and it's very important,"he said.
Trump said at the meeting, 'We want to absolutely be there. We want to help. We want to be a part of it. But different countries have to also help. That's only fair. And I think the president — we've already discussed this — and the president and I very much agree on that.'
President Trump started his Saturday in better spirits, asking "is there anything better to celebrate than the end of a war" as he prepared to meet with Macron at Élysée.
Tweeting from the U.S. ambassador to France's residence metres away from Élysée just before the meeting, Trump turned his attention to the commemorative event he was in Paris to attend, the centennial anniversary of the cessation of hostilities in WWI.
Trump misstated the facts of the war in the tweet. It was not the bloodiest of its kind. Among world wars, of which there have been two, the death toll for second world war, when the United States debuted the atomic bomb, was the highest.
World War I was the bloodiest war of its time, bringing about 8.5 million causalities on the battlefield. But then came WWII with its 15 million battlefield deaths.
The overall death toll of WWII, including civilians is disputed, but estimates range from 50 million to 80 million.
Trump's attention over the past few days as he would normally be preparing for a foreign trip has been strained. His political party took a beating in Tuesday's elections and an expose revealed that he was aware of a payment his former lawyer made to a porn actress to keep her quiet about her alleged affair with the future president.
As the president landed in Paris he seemingly became aware for the first time of remarks Macron had made earlier in the week about the need for a European army.
"Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the U.S. subsidizes greatly!" Trump responded.
Macron made the remark during a six-day tour of France's historic sites from the First World War. He said at a stop that the continent won't be able to protect itself until it establishes a 'true European army' and stops relying so heavily on the United States.
"We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America," Macron reportedly said.
Trump had been tweeting all through his flight about perceived election drama back home. When he landed he claimed that Macron "suggested that Europe build its own military in order to protect itself from the U.S., China and Russia," even though the French leader actually made the comments several days prior on Nov. 6.
The American president and first lady Melania Trump are spending the weekend in France as part of a program for dignitaries celebrating the centennial anniversary of the cessation of hostilities in WWI that Russian President Vladimir Putin is also attending.
"It should be a very beautiful period of time, the 100th anniversary of the ending of World War I," Trump, who was apparently unaware of Macron's remarks, said earlier on Friday before leaving the White House. "We have many countries — the leadership from many countries will be there, especially since they heard the United States will be there."
The ceremony is Sunday. He and Melania attended a private luncheon at Élysée Palace on Saturday before a formal dinner for visiting leaders and their spouses at Musée D'Orsay.
He and first lady had planned to visit an American memorial at Belleau Wood on Saturday afternoon, however the event was cancelled at the last minute due to a storm that would have prevented them from helicoptering to the site that's more than an hour's drive from Paris.
"The President and First Lady's trip to Ainse-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial has been canceled due to scheduling and logistical difficulties caused by the weather," the White House said. "An American delegation led by Chief of Staff General John Kelly and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joe Dunford will attend on their behalf."
The Trumps left Washington for Paris on Friday morning with plans to return late Sunday evening. He had planned to have his own procession this weekend in D.C., mimicking the military parade that France puts on in Paris every year on Bastille Day, until the Pentagon called off the show of American military might following a report that put the projected price of the vanity project at $177 million.
He decided as a result to attend the annual Armistice Day celebration at the Arc de Triomphe alongside other world leaders.
Trump was looking to lessen the blow of his party's mid-term losses and bury bad headlines about the abrupt firing of his attorney general with the Paris trip. But he just couldn't get into the trip abroad during the flight, when he was making allegations of voter fraud in Florida and Arizona from his cabin on Air Force One.
Upon landing in Paris, his attention jerked to the comments that Macron, who was finishing his tour of historical site and was not at the airport when Trump arrived, had made days before.
He launched the attack before ending his night at his temporary lodgings, the U.S. ambassador to France's residence in Paris.
The White House is positioning the weekend trip as 'a historic opportunity to honor the sacrifices of those who gave their lives for our freedom' in the war that ended 100 years ago on Sunday.
"The President's participation in these events will also serve as the reminder of the important role that the United States has played and continues to play in ensuring peace and security in Europe," a senior official said.
Aside from a formal slate of events for world leaders in France, the president was scheduled to visit a visit two cemeteries: one for American soldiers at the Belleau Wood battlefield and the Suresnes American Cemetery. He's also set to participate in a closed-door meet and greet with embassy staff.
Belleau Wood was later called off, as it was determined by the U.S. that it would be too dangerous for him to fly in Marine One.
While Europe knows Nov. 11 as Armistice Day, the date belongs to the veterans in America, where it is a holiday that is recognized by the federal government.
The White House says that Trump will deliver traditional Veterans Day remarks at Suresnes, as such. His administration's efforts to improve vets' health care is likely to come up.
Trump's interactions with foreign leaders in Paris are were being kept to a minimum, and his only scheduled sit-down was with Macron. The rest of his conversations with leaders will take part at Sunday's ceremony and a Saturday night dinner.
White House officials said before the trip that trade was a topic that very likely 'would come up' in the conversation with Macron, in addition to Iran and Syria.
"We'll be discussing many things, not only military and aid, and NATO, and others, but we'll also be discussing trade," Trump affirmed on Saturday. "And we've been discussing that for a little while. I think we've made a lot of progress. We'll see if we can get it over the line, as they say. We'll see what happens. But trade is very important."
Trump said terrorism is another subject he wanted to address. "And we see what's going on in the world, and it's not a good picture. But we've made a lot of progress.
"We've done things together that were quite bold, recently, six months ago. Very bold. And terrorism will be a big factor and a big part of our discussion today," he assessed.
Macron told reporters at the top of the bilat, "Obviously, we will discuss about a lot of topics: Iran, Syria, Yemen, Africa, trade, climate, and a lot of common global issues. And, obviously, we will discuss about our defense cooperation, which is very important."
The United States reinstated sanctions on Iran for its nuclear activity this week as it demanded a new deal that prevents Tehran from developing ballistic missiles.
Businesses in Europe will suffer mightily if they continue to do business with Iran in violation of the punishing actions and have not received a waiver.
Syria, and the continued war and humanitarian crisis there, was also to be a subject. The U.S. wants Russian-allied Iran to move out its military and stop providing support to the Middle Eastern nation's violent dictator.
A possible summit between Trump and Putin to discuss Syria and other subjects had been teased for Paris by both nations and was postponed to later this month in Argentina at the G20. They'll have informal conversation in Paris at the Armistice Day events, but they will not sit down for talks in Paris four days after the election U.S. officials say they attempted to interfere in.
"The only bilateral meeting that we have planned for the President will be with President Macron. We do not plan a separate bilateral meeting with President Putin or with other leaders in Paris," a senior U.S. official said Wednesday.
Trump told reporters traveling with him on Monday that he expected the meeting with Putin was likely to take place in Buenos Aires.
"Getting along with Russia, China, and all of them would be a good thing; I've said it for a long time. So we'll have plenty of meetings. But I'm not sure that we'll have a meeting in Paris — probably not," the president stated.
In the remarks last week Macron acknowledged the tension between the two world powers and stressed that Europe must learn to defend "itself better alone, without just depending on the United States' and it will not be able to do that that 'unless we decide to have a true European army."
His proposal acknowledged the reality of the 'America First' doctrine and unabashed nationalism that drove Trump to power two years ago and was reaffirmed in by large swaths of the country last Tuesday.
In his wake, Trump has left a power vacuum that allies of the United States worry that China and Russia will fill. He has in some ways blunted the countries' rise with sanctions and tariffs for malign activities such as election meddling and intellectual property theft. But he has only acted out against them when it's in the United States' direct interests.
"There is a growing concerns, given Trump's rhetoric, that he sees the continent and particularly the EU as an adversary to be destabilized and undermined and not as America's closest friend," Dalibor Rohac, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, told DailyMail.com before the trip began. "His good personal relationship with Emmanuel Macron provides at least some hope that progress can be made."