Date
17 October 2018
French President Emmanuel Macron acknowledges applause from the audience before delivering a speech at a joint meeting of Congress in Washington on Wednesday. Photo: Reuters
French President Emmanuel Macron acknowledges applause from the audience before delivering a speech at a joint meeting of Congress in Washington on Wednesday. Photo: Reuters

Macron challenges Trump policies in Congress speech

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday challenged many of the policies of his US counterpart, urging Donald Trump to engage more with the world and join the fight against climate change, among other things.

In a speech to US Congress, Macron repeatedly criticized Trump’s isolationist principles, describing the administration’s approach as being short-sighted, Reuters reports.

Stressing that America’s involvement in the global community is vital, Macron flayed Trump’s opposition to the Paris climate accord and international trade agreements.

Capping a three-day trip to the United States, the French leader even took a dig at Trump’s famous 2016 campaign slogan, calling for the US to help “make our planet great again”, the report said.

Macron has developed a strong relationship with Trump at a time when many European leaders are keeping a distance. 

But before Congress, Macron suggested he wanted more than just good optics.

Without mentioning Trump by name, he challenged the Republican president’s protectionist and nationalist impulses and said modern economic and security challenges must be a shared global responsibility that is “based on a new breed of multilateralism.”

“The United States is the one who invented this multilateralism. You are the one now who has to help preserve and reinvent it,” Macron said.

He said an international nuclear deal with Iran, which Trump has harshly criticized, was not perfect but must remain in place until a replacement is forged.

“It is true to say that this agreement may not address all concerns and very important concerns,” Macron said. “But we should not abandon it without having something more substantial instead. That’s my position.”

Trump has often vowed to pull the US out of the 2015 nuclear pact between Iran and six major powers. He will decide by May 12 whether to restore US economic sanctions on Tehran, which could be a first step to ending the deal.

Macron also said he was confident the US would eventually come back into the Paris climate accord aimed at combating global warming.

“Let us work together in order to make our planet great again,” he said. “We are killing our planet – let us face it, there is no Planet B.”

Macron’s speech drew frequent cheers and applause, particularly from Democratic lawmakers when he took aim at Trump’s views.

Afterward, Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer said Macron’s call for global engagement was timely.

“I hope that everyone at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue takes President Macron’s words to heart,” Schumer said on the Senate floor.

Macron’s visit also included efforts to convince Trump to exempt Europe from steel tariffs and convince the US to maintain its military presence in Syria.

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RC

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