Trump, Macron hold impromptu lunch to kick off G-7 meeting

Trump, Macron hold impromptu lunch to kick off G-7 meeting
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpMarine unit in Florida reportedly pushing to hold annual ball at Trump property Giuliani clashes with CNN's Cuomo, calls him a 'sellout' and the 'enemy' Giuliani says 'of course' he asked Ukraine to look into Biden seconds after denying it MORE and French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronBudowsky: Donald, Boris, Bibi — The right in retreat Whistleblower Edward Snowden calls on Macron to grant him asylum in France Trump to meet with India's Modi in Texas, Australia's Morrison in Ohio MORE held a private lunch on Saturday before the start of this weekend’s Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France.

Speaking at the Hôtel du Palais, the two leaders, who have had an up-and-down relationship, said they would discuss a range of international developments, including tensions with Iran, trade, fires in the Amazon and taxes.

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“We will discuss Libya, Syria, Ukraine, North Korea, and Iran — a lot of these crises that we need a strong coordination of and partners on the table,” Macron said. “We have to work very hard because I see we do share the same objectives.” 

“Thanks again, Mr. President, for taking the time being here and being a partner,” he added.

Trump, who has at times lambasted his French counterpart, responded that the two have a “very good relationship.”

“We've been friends for a long time. And every once in a while, we go at it just a little bit — not very much. But we get along very well. We have a very good relationship — sort of, I think I can say, a special relationship,” he said. “And I think we'll accomplish a lot this weekend, and I look forward to it.”

A French diplomat later said that Macron used the working lunch to outline a French plan aimed at easing tensions with Iran, saying France has been working on the plan for weeks, according to The Associated Press.

Under the plan, which the official described to the AP, Iran would be allowed to export oil for a limited period of time in exchange for fully implementing the 2015 nuclear deal, pushing to reduce tensions in the Gulf and opening up for talks.

The White House said that Trump and Macron "discussed the importance of promoting free and fair trade, reducing trade barriers, taxation, and regulation, and ensuring freedom of navigation and commerce as pillars of global economic growth. They also addressed security challenges of mutual concern, particularly the ongoing crisis in Libya, growing instability in the Sahel region, and tensions in the Persian Gulf."

Despite the decorum at the luncheon, some members of the Trump administration expressed dissatisfaction with Macron's impromptu invitation, according to Politico. An official reportedly accused the French president of trying to play to his domestic audience by also underlining issues such as gender equality and climate change.

“It’s our view that with France trying to drive these other issues outside of global economics, national security and trade, they're trying to fracture the G7,” the official reportedly said. 

Trump and Macron have had a rocky relationship throughout their tenures. Macron drew Trump’s ire in November when he pushed for a "true, European army," highlighting the potential threat of Russia and saying that the continent needed "to defend itself better alone." 

The president also threatened to slap tariffs on French wine and hammered Macron as foolish after he signed a digital services tax on tech companies making at least 750 million euros annually, a figure that meant U.S.-based tech giants such as Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon would be included.

Updated: 2:15 p.m.