France treated President Donald Trump to an elaborate military display on Friday, a strategic show of friendship by the new leader here who hopes to elevate his country’s global standing by flattering his US counterpart.
Thousands of French troops paraded down the Champs-Élysées in a dramatic show of pageantry to mark the storming of the Bastille military prison in 1789, a turning point in the French Revolution.
Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron reviewed the procession side-by-side from a stand at the Place de la Concorde, appearing in periodic and friendly conversation during the two-hour spectacle, which included 241 horses, 63 airplanes and 29 helicopters all advancing down and above the tree-lined avenue.
They shared another extended handshake as they parted ways, each man gripping the other’s arm as they paced the cobblestones of the stately plaza.
This year, the celebration is also meant to commemorate the centennial of US entry into World War I, hence Macron’s invitation to Trump to attend.
In addition to the display of French military might, the parade was augmented by about 150 US soldiers, airmen, sailors, and Marines, as well as American aircraft participating in the flyover.
All told, Trump and Macron spent upwards of five hours in one-on-one time during Trump’s 30-hour visit to the French capital. Unlike past French presidents, Macron speaks nearly perfect English and could converse easily without a translator.
Added to his earlier meetings with Trump last month, Macron is now the foreign leader who has spent the most time with the US leader since he took office in January.
In brief remarks following the ceremony, Macron channeled some of Trump’s populist strains, declaring that France’s values must be preserved and underscoring a militaristic effort to uphold personal liberties.
“On this day of national celebration, we must not ever forget the price that we paid for conquering, for winning our rights,” he said. “The price which we are prepared to pay to defend them because it is they which unite us and make France, France and make France what it is today.”
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SOURCE: CNN, Kevin Liptak