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Emmanuel Macron rejects nationalism in speech to US Congress

He was courteous but firm, deferential but resolute as he lay out the differences between his and US President Donald Trump’s worldviews.

French President Emmanuel Macron has drawn sharp contrasts with President Donald Trump’s worldview during a speech to the US Congress.

Mr Macron used his speech to lay out a firm vision of global leadership that rejects “the illusion of nationalism” in a candid counterweight to Mr Trump’s appeals to put “America first”.

He was courteous but firm, deferential but resolute as he traced the lines of profound division between himself and Mr Trump on key world issues: climate change, trade and the Iran nuclear deal.

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Mr Macron addressed his disagreements with the Trump administration head on (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

A day after the French leader had put on a show of warmth and brotherly affection for Mr Trump at the White House, his blunt speech reinforced the French leader’s emerging role as a top defender of the liberal world order.

“We can choose isolationism, withdrawal and nationalism. This is an option. It can be tempting to us as a temporary remedy to our fears,” Mr Macron said.

“But closing the door to the world will not stop the evolution of the world. It will not douse but inflame the fears of our citizens.”

Issuing a bleak warning, he urged against letting “the rampaging work of extreme nationalism shake a world full of hopes for greater prosperity”.

In his first year as France’s president, Mr Macron has carefully cultivated as close a relationship to Mr Trump as any world leader can boast. But addressing a joint meeting of Congress — an honour granted only occasionally to leaders of close US allies – he confronted his differences with Mr Trump head-on.

As Mr Trump considers pulling out of the 2015 Iran accord, Mr Macron made clear that France will not follow his lead.

“We signed it at the initiative of the United States. We signed it, both the United States and France,” Mr Macron said. “That is why we cannot say we should get rid of it like that.”

Mr Macron later told French reporters that he has no “inside information” on Mr Trump’s decision on the Iran deal but noted that it is clear the US president “is not very much eager to defend it”.

Mr Macron saved some of his most pointed comments during the speech on Trump administration policy on climate change, implicitly lamenting the president’s moves to withdraw from the global emissions pact reached in Paris.

Mr Macron said humans are “killing our planet” and added: “Let us face it: There is no Planet B.”

“On this issue, it may happen we have disagreements between the United States and France. It may happen, like in all families,” Mr Macron said. “But that’s for me a short-term disagreement.”

It was an allusion to the prospect of America choosing a different path under a successor, whoever that may prove to be. Asked by French reporters about his comments later during a visit to the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial, Mr Macron said with a smile that he does not expect Mr Trump to rejoin the Paris accord but does expect that America will.

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