The French President appeared to tacitly admit that the European project was on shaky ground in an interview on Swiss news site RTS. Speaking with host Darius Rochebin, Mr Macron floundered when Mr Trump’s comment was brought up. Mr Rochebin said: “The Washington Post reported that Donald Trump asked you: “Why don’t you leave Europe?”
“It seems incredible.
“In a moment like this, is it a provocation or does he really believe it?”
The French President fumbled: “I do not know. It is up to him to answer that question.
“What I do know is that Europe is a space for multilateralism. There is not a place in the world where…”
But his host pressed: “But when he told you that, when he tells you something so big, what do you think?”
Considering, Mr Macron paused before answering with only perfunctory confidence: “No. And I told him no, because Europe… well, it’s true, there are days when it goes faster, it varies, but we are together. We’re 28 today, maybe 27 tomorrow…”
Mr Macron has downplayed the death of an oak tree he had offered U.S. President Donald Trump last year on Tuesday, saying people shouldn’t read symbols into everything and that he would send the American leader a new tree.
The two men celebrated the special relationship between the United States and France during Macron’s state visit in April 2018 to Washington by planting the oak sapling on the grounds of the White House.
It was put in quarantine because of fears parasites on the tree could spread to others on the White House property.
U.S. officials this weekend said it had died prompting a flurry of social media posts comparing its death to the difficult relationship the two leaders have had since that visit.
Macron is at odds over the American’s unilateralist approach to trade, climate change and a nuclear deal with Iran.
“We will send him another, it is not a tragedy,” Macron told Switzerland’s RTS network on the sidelines of an International Labour Organisation meeting in Geneva. “Do not see symbols where there are none, the symbol was to plant it together”.
The tree, from Belleau Wood in France where almost 2,000 American soldiers died in a World War One battle, had been dug up not long after it was planted.
“It turns out that this oak was put in quarantine for American sanitary reasons and the poor thing did not survive,” Macron said. “I’ll send another oak because I think the US Marines and the friendship for freedom between our peoples are well worth it.”
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega