WASHINGTON — French President Emmanuel Macron denounced nationalism and urged the United States to reject isolationism in a speech before a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.
“We are living in a time of anger and fear,” Macron said, noting political shifts in the U.S. and Europe. But he added that fear and anger “do not construct anything.”
Macron called on the United States to remain a global leader on world issues, a contrast to President Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda.
“We can choose isolationism, withdrawal or nationalism. But closing the door to the world will not stop the evolution of the world,” Macron said.
The French president’s address to Congress came a day after a state dinner at the White House and two days discussing foreign issues with Trump. The two leaders shared light moments and praised their close relationship during public appearances.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., invited Macron to address Congress during his trip to the U.S., and the speech fell on the 58th anniversary of then-French President Charles de Gaulle’s address to American lawmakers in 1960.
Like de Gaulle, Macron spoke of the relationship between France and the United States, a contrast to the fallout between the two nations when France refused to back the U.S. invasion of Iraq following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Macron’s remarks highlighted the “special bond” between the two countries. The speech was well received by lawmakers, who interrupted the address several times for applause.
Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., said it was an honor to welcome Macron to the United States and to maintain “the relationship with our nation’s oldest ally.”
“It is vital that we continue to work together to tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges including the prevention of a nuclear Iran, bringing an end to the violence in Syria and taking real action to address global climate change,” said Titus, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., got a picture with the French leader while he was at the Capitol.
He called Macron’s speech “powerful.”
Macron traveled to Washington to urge Trump to remain in the nuclear deal with Iran, as well as to discuss the civil war in Syria and Russian aggression in the region.
Trump has railed against the 2015 pact between Iran and six other national powers agreed to by the Obama administration. The pact halted Iran’s quest for nuclear energy that many believe would result in armament. Trump faces a May 12 deadline to continue or pull out of the pact.
Macron is urging Trump to instead negotiate with amendments to address his concerns, an avenue both leaders appeared to embrace during a White House news conference Tuesday.
The French president told Congress that Iran remained a threat and that a multinational effort is needed to stop it from developing nuclear capabilities.
“Iran shall never possess any nuclear weapons,” Macron said. “Not now, not in five years, not in 10 years, never.”
Macron said countries should not abandon the pact without having substantial agreements to keep Iran’s nuclear activities in check.
The French president also praised multinational efforts in Syria.
France, Great Britain and the United States acted together several weeks ago with airstrikes on military targets in Syria after the government there gassed its own people in an ongoing civil war.
While Trump has threatened to pull troops out of Syria, Macron said the nations stand together in continued efforts there.
Macron also urged the United States to rejoin the Paris Climate Accords.
The Trump administration pulled the United States out of the accords reduce emissions and greenhouse gases last year saying the restrictions unfairly hurt American businesses and placed them at a disadvantage.