WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump will invite French President Emmanuel Macron on the first state visit of the Trump administration, the White House confirmed Tuesday.
Trump is the first U.S. president in decades to wrap up his opening year without offering a counterpart the honor of a state visit, a diplomatic tool used to impress and showcase ties between allies.
The designation means Macron will be welcomed with a showy arrival ceremony on the White House lawn, including a 21-gun salute, followed by private meetings with Trump and a joint news conference before American and French journalists. Macron will also be the guest of honor at a glitzy state dinner, typically attended by hundreds of guests and meticulously planned by the first lady.
Trump was Macron’s special guest at an annual Bastille Day celebration last year that coincided with the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entrance into World War I. Trump apparently was so inspired by the grand military parade in the heart of Paris that he later called for a similar display of U.S. military hardware in Washington later this year.
CNN first reported on Trump’s plans to invite France’s leader, later confirmed by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. A formal announcement, including the date, is pending.
Macron, who is also new to the presidency, and Trump met several times last year and spoke by telephone as recently as this month. They first met last May in Belgium and gripped each other’s hands so tightly during an extended handshake that Trump’s knuckles appeared to turn white.
Trump was celebrated during a series of state visits as he toured Asia last November.
During the presidential campaign, Trump spoke dismissively of state dinners, a key component of a state visit. In 2015, Trump panned President Barack Obama’s decision to welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping on a state visit that year.
“I would not be throwing (Xi) a dinner,” Trump said at the time. “I would get him a McDonald’s hamburger and say we’ve got to get down to work.”
Xi was among those who feted Trump last year, pouring on the pageantry as he welcomed Trump to Beijing on what the Chinese billed as a “state visit, plus.”
Not since Calvin Coolidge in the 1920s has a president ended his first year in office without hosting a foreign leader for a state visit, according to the White House Historical Association.
Coolidge assumed office in 1923 after the sudden death of President Warren G. Harding, and was elected to a full term in 1924. Coolidge didn’t hold a state dinner until October 1926, for Queen Marie of Romania, according to the association.
Every president since Coolidge has hosted at least one state visit their first year.
Trump last year accepted Queen Elizabeth II’s invitation for a state visit. A date still has not been set.
Associated Press writer Catherine Lucey contributed to this report.
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