President Trump's visit to Paris on Thursday will take him to a city he has repeatedly derided—and at the side of a French leader best known to Americans as the earnest young man with the endless handshake. "Paris isn't Paris any longer," Trump declared in February, implying the city had been ruined by jihadi attacks. "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris," he said just last month as he announced the US would leave the Paris climate agreement. But Trump isn't the only politician who can use Paris to make a symbolic point. When Trump arrives in the French capital, it will be as French President Emmanuel Macron's guest of honor, the AP reports, with a private tour of Napoleon's tomb, dinner at the Eiffel Tower and, to top off the Paris tourist trifecta, a seat at the tribune as American troops open the Bastille Day parade on the Champs-Elysees.
Macron extended an invitation to Trump to join the national day celebrations, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the US entry into World War I. And the meetings on Thursday have been billed by both governments as a time to deepen the ties that bind the US and France. "It's important to establish a relationship that is functional, for both Mr. Macron and Mr. Trump, to know where the other stands, so they can speak to each other, to facilitate trans-Atlantic relations," says a political scientist. Trump departed the White House on Wednesday evening, joined by Melania Trump and top aides, including chief of staff Reince Priebus and National Security Adviser HR McMaster.