Trump was missing from one of the weekend’s most powerful images: A line of world leaders, walking shoulder to-shoulder in a somber, rain-soaked procession as the bells marking the exact moment that fighting ended — 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918 — finished tolling.
PARIS (AP) — For President Donald Trump in Paris, America First meant largely America alone.
At a weekend commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, the president who proudly declares himself a “nationalist” stood apart, even on a continent where his brand of populism is on the rise.
He began his visit with a tweet slamming the French president’s call for a European defense force, arrived at events alone and spent much of his trip out of sight in the American ambassadors’ residence in central Paris. On Sunday, he listened as he was lectured on the dangers of nationalist isolation, and then he headed home just as the inaugural Paris Peace Summit was getting underway.
But Trump was terse during some of his private conversations with world leaders, according to people with direct knowledge of his visit. One of the people described the president as “grumpy.” They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss private conversations.
Trump, who has made clear that he has limited patience for broad, multilateral agreements, sat mostly stone-faced as he listened to Macron, who sees himself as Europe’s foil to the rising nationalist sentiment, which has taken hold in Hungary and Poland among other countries.
Also traveling on his own was Russian President Vladimir Putin, who shook Trump’s hand, flashed him a thumbs-up sign and patted Trump’s arm as he arrived. Trump responded with a wide smile.
Trump, who ran on an “America First” platform, has jarred European allies with his actions. He has slapped tariffs on the European Union, pulled the U.S. out of the landmark Paris Climate Accord and the Iran nuclear deal and suggested he might be willing to pull the U.S. out of NATO if member counties don’t significantly boost their defense spending. Trump’s eagerness to get along with the Russian leader — in spite of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and numerous other aggressive moves in recent years — has alarmed those who view Russia as a growing threat.
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