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Melania Trump goes it alone with visit to Paris kids' hospital

By Thomas Adamson

Melania Trump took her own path through Paris as she and President Donald Trump began a two-day visit to the French capital, starting at a children's hospital.

At Necker Hospital the US first lady visited a ward decorated with images from The Little Prince, the famous French novel written and illustrated by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

She spoke briefly in French to six children, asking how they were and introducing herself before switching to a translator to ask how long they expected to stay.

One of the children, a 14-year-old girl named Ysatis, was in a wheelchair and said she expected to leave the hospital on Monday for a month of rehabilitation.

"You look very good, very strong... soon you'll be walking and running," Mrs Trump told her.

Ysatis later said she appreciated the visit.

"It was very pleasant and really good. She's beautiful and gorgeous," Ysatis said.

Martin Hirsch, director of Paris' public hospital system, presented the first lady with a copy of The Little Prince book.

"I will keep it, practise my French. It's beautiful," she said.

The first lady, though not as visible as some of her predecessors, has so far taken on a fairly prominent role on her husband's three international trips. She also visited children's hospitals in Italy and Israel.

Melania and Donald Trump have an 11-year-old son, the first boy in the White House since John F Kennedy Jr more than 50 years ago.

Mrs Trump was later expected to visit Notre Dame Cathedral and tour the Seine River by boat with Brigitte Macron, the wife of French President Emmanuel Macron.

She accompanied Mr Trump to Paris for meetings with Mr Macron before he joins in the Bastille Day celebration today.

Emmanuel Macron said it is "obvious and indispensable" to have exchanges with the US President as the two leaders were set to try to find common ground on security, defence and other issues.

Mr Macron spoke at a news conference following a meeting in Paris with German Chancellor Angela Merkel who, like Mr Macron, was deeply disappointed in Mr Trump's recent decision to withdraw the US from a global agreement to combat climate change.

Ms Merkel said differences with the United States are "regrettable" but that communication continues.

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