Trump, Macron plan to meet at World Economic Forum
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE on Thursday agreed to meet with President Emmanuel Macron of France at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.

The two leaders plan to meet at the forum in Davos, Switzerland, this month if their schedules permit, the White House announced, just hours after fending off criticism surrounding Trump's planned visit.

Reporters questioned why Trump would attend the forum to "rub elbows" with "very wealthy people" during a White House press briefing on Thursday, referring to the summit as a "hangout for globalists."

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Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinHillicon Valley: Google to limit political ad targeting | Senators scrutinize self-driving car safety | Trump to 'look at' Apple tariff exemption | Progressive lawmakers call for surveillance reforms | House panel advances telecom bills Trump says he's 'looking at' Apple tariff exemption during tour of Texas plant Trump tax breaks for low-income neighborhoods draw scrutiny MORE and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pushed back against the reporters, saying the meeting will be a chance for Trump to deliberate with world leaders on free trade. 

"The idea is that the economic team is going to go over and talk about the 'America first' economic strategy," Mnuchin said. "We are thrilled that the president is coming. And I think — what we know is that the economy that is good for the U.S. is good for the rest of the world.” 

During a phone call with Macron, Trump also discussed the French president's first visit to China this week and the two leaders agreed to step up denuclearization efforts toward North Korea. Trump also said there needs to be a focus on the Iranian government's aggressive behavior in the Middle East.

Macron has previously criticized Trump for his decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord, an international agreement aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He has also been critical of the president's use of Twitter.

The World Economic Forum is scheduled to run from Jan. 23-26.