US President Donald Trump was "ranting and venting on trade" to French President Emmanuel Macron during their bilateral meeting Monday evening, according to a senior diplomatic source.
Trump lambasted the European Union for its trade policies, saying it was worse than China — a complaint that the US president made to his French counterpart in an April meeting at the White House.
The source described Trump as “going off” on EU trade during his meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. Trump said that the EU had to open up on agriculture — a continued point of contention in trade negotiations between the two entities. Macron was respectful to Trump and pushed back some on the topic but moved the conversation forward, the source said.
There was “some rapport” between the two, “but it's not what it (once) was,” the source said.
Trump and Macron also talked about Iran and North Korea, during which Trump expressed his views in what the source described as “very predictable terms.”
The next day, Macron delivered a pointed rebuke to Trump in his speech at the UN General Assembly, both directly and implicitly criticizing the administration for its policies on Iran, climate change, the UN, migration and Mideast peace.
Macron began by telling the assembly that the world order based on sovereignty and equality among nations that came into being in the 1600s was facing a “far-reaching crisis,” and said the answer lay in cooperation and collaboration among nations.
“Nationalism always leads to defeat,” said Macron, who couched his remarks in the historical context of Europe's world wars. “If courage is lacking in the defence of fundamental principles, the international order becomes fragile and this can lead as we have already seen twice, to global war. We saw that with our very own eyes.”
On trade, Macron declared, “bilateral agreements, new protectionisms, will not work.”
It was not the first time that Trump had tussled on trade during a meeting with a European counterpart. In discussions in April, Trump accused German Chancellor Angela Merkel of being “so protectionist” in her trade policies, and again raised the issue of German automobiles flooding into the United States.