President Donald Trump is making no promises to change his decision about pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord, something that made for awkward moments Thursday on the first day of his trip to France.
"Something could happen with respect to the Paris accord," Trump said at the end of meetings Thursday with French President Emmanuel Macron. "We'll see what happens. But we will talk about that over the coming period of time. And if it happens, that will be wonderful. And if it doesn't, that'll be OK, too."
Amid deep disagreements with his host over climate and trade, odds were stacked against a good visit for the U.S. president.
But Trump and Macron instead focused on finding common ground on areas like Syria and counterterrorism.
Macron, although not backing down from his defense of the accord, said differences would "absolutely not" impede progress on other issues.
"On climate, we know what our disagreements are. We have shared them many times, and I think that it is important to see how we can advance on this subject. I respect the decision of President Trump," Macron said.
Questions about Russia and the U.S. presidential campaign followed Trump across the Atlantic, but cordiality was the order of the day, and both leaders appeared intent on getting off to a good start.
"The United States remains committed to being a leader in environmental protection while we advance energy security and economic growth," Trump said. "The friendship between our two nations, and ourselves, I might add, is unbreakable."
Trump recalled the deep historic bonds between the United States and France, whose troops helped fight for American independence more than two centuries ago. France, Trump said, was America's first ally.
Binding the two countries above all now is the common fight against Islamist terrorism, and it is on that issue that Trump said his talks with Macron had been most productive.
The French leader emphasized there is no space between the U.S. and France when it comes to combating terrorism, and he said that "from day one, we have seen eye to eye" on the issue.
Trump appeared to be enjoying his visit to the French capital, a departure from his impressions following a spate of terrorist attacks in 2015 when he deemed the city unsafe and said "Paris isn't Paris anymore."
"I really have a feeling that you're going to have a very, very peaceful and beautiful Paris. And I'm coming back. So, you'd better do a good job," Trump told Macron, drawing laughs from some reporters.
"And you're always welcome," Macron answered. France rolled out the type of welcome it reserves for only its most distinguished visitors.
With full fanfare, complete with honor guards and a band, the American president visited Napoleon's tomb at Les Invalides, a 16th century complex housing medical facilities for veterans, and France's national military museum.
The visit is equally important for Macron, who needs to show he is a tough leader who can deal with the new U.S. leadership, no matter how large the differences.
On Thursday night, the U.S. president and first lady Melania Trump joined Macron and his wife, Brigitte, at a famous restaurant on the second level of the Eiffel Tower.
On Friday, Trump attends Bastille Day celebrations that are especially significant for America this year, marking the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War One.
American troops are scheduled to parade on the Champs Elysees along with French troops.
Trump said he originally had no plans to attend, but he decided to accept the invitation of Macron when he considered the date's importance in French and American history.
Source: Voice of America