PARIS — President Trump is guest of honor at the opulent Bastille Day celebrations in the French capital on Friday, the second day of his first trip to the country as U.S. leader and a year after a deadly terror attack in the southern city of Nice killed 86 people and wounded hundreds.
This year’s ornate Bastille Day — France’s Fourth of July — military parade on the capital’s famous Champs-Élysées avenue includes U.S. soldiers marching with their French counterparts to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I.
“This is a wonderful national celebration,” Trump said in a news conference Thursday. “We look very much forward to it. Spectacular.”
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There is heightened security around the Champs-Élysées and the nearby Place de la Concorde after the area was repeatedly targeted by Islamist extremists. Last month, an attacker died when he rammed his explosives-laden car into a police convoy on the Champs-Élysées.
After the Paris parade Macron will travel to Nice, where an Islamist terrorist plowed a truck into a crowd on the Promenade des Anglais after a Bastille Day fireworks display a year ago.
France’s interior ministry said more than 130,000 security personnel and emergency service workers will protect people around the country during the celebrations, a national holiday in France.
Trump, 71, arrived in Paris on Thursday amid colorful pageantry for a two-day visit, and held meetings with French President Emmanuel Macron, 39, met with U.S. embassy staff and U.S. service members and dined at the Eiffel Tower.
“Great evening with President @EmmanuelMacron & Mrs. Macron. Went to Eiffel Tower for dinner. Relationship with France stronger than ever,” Trump tweeted with a photo of the two leaders and their wives at the famous Paris landmark early Friday.
@realDonaldTrump Great evening with President @EmmanuelMacron & Mrs. Macron. Went to Eiffel Tower for dinner. Relationship with France stronger than ever.
Trump pledged Thursday that the United States would work to protect the environment, despite withdrawing from the Paris Climate Change Agreement that was signed by nearly 200 nations.
“Our fates are tied together more so than ever,” Trump said at a news conference following a meeting with Macron, one of his harshest critics for backing out of the Paris accord on June 1.
Macron said while the leaders have a “number of disagreements” on the threat of global warming, he respected Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the agreement.
Macron said Thursday that he and Trump would work on a “joint roadmap” to fight terrorism and post-war initiatives for Syria.
Trump also defended his son’s meeting with a Russian lawyer whom he believed had incriminating information on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election. “Most people would have taken that meeting,” Trump said.
“It’s called opposition research,” Trump added. “Politics is not the nicest business in the world.”
When asked about negative comments Trump previously made that “Paris no longer looks like Paris” in light of an influx of migrants and a spate of terrorist attacks, the U.S. president changed his tune.
You have a tough president. I really have a feeling you will have a peaceful and beautiful Paris,” Trump said. “And I’m coming back.”
“You are always welcome,” Macron replied.
Bastille Day marks the storming of the Bastille fortress that held political prisoners in 1789, which led to the French Revolution.
Bhatti reported from Paris, Onyanga-Omara reported from London
Contributing: David Jackson in Washington