BRUSSELS — Donald Trump’s attendance at a NATO mini-summit Thursday gave the oldest elected U.S. president an opportunity to meet France’s youngest leader, Emmanuel Macron, at the U.S. ambassador’s residence. The result was a handshake that went viral on social media.
Macron has let it be known that he plans to challenge Trump’s skepticism on climate change and the Paris accord that the president has threatened to exit.
And during the French election, Trump made clear his preference for Macron’s rival, Marine Le Pen, head of the nationalist National Front political party.
Still, Trump always is impressed with a win.
“It is my great honor to be with the newly elected president of France, who ran an incredible campaign and had a tremendous victory,” he said upon meeting Macron, 39. “All over the world they’re talking about it. And we have a lot to discuss, including terrorism and other things. Congratulations. Great job.”
Macron responded, “For my part, I’m also very happy to be with President Trump. We have an extremely large agenda to discuss: the fight against terrorism, the economy, climate and energy.”
Then came the handshake. It lasted some five seconds. As described in the White House pool report: “Each president gripped the other’s hand with considerable intensity, their knuckles turning white and their jaws clenching and faces tightening.”
That may be a tad exaggerated, but in this business five seconds can feel like a lifetime.
Contact Debra J. Saunders at email@example.com or at 202-662-7391. Follow @DebraJSaunders on Twitter.