FRENCH President Emmanuel Macron says his now famous white-knuckle handshake showdown with US counterpart Donald Trump was “a moment of truth” designed to show that he’s no pushover.
Macron told a Sunday newspaper in France that “my handshake with him, it wasn’t innocent.” “One must show that you won’t make small concessions, even symbolic ones, but also not over-publicise things, either.”
Macron’s office confirmed to The Associated Press the veracity of the president’s comments in Le Journal du Dimanche.
At their first meeting, ahead of a NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday, the two men locked hands for so long that knuckles started turning white. The French leader held the shake for a few seconds more. Both men’s jaws seemed to clench.
Despite that — and the unease Mr Trump’s European trip appears to have caused German Chancellor Angela Merkel — Mr Macron says he still has faith in the US President.
“I think Mr. Trump is someone who is pragmatic and so I have good hopes that having considered the arguments put forward by various people and his country’s own interest he will confirm his commitment (to the accord) – in his own time,” he said.
“I saw someone who listens and who is willing to work. For Mr. Trump and myself, it was a first experience. I think he saw the purpose of these multilateral discussions.”
Optimism, and an almost constant smile on the face, are part of Macron’s strategy French voters are now getting used to.
Originally published as ‘It wasn’t innocent’: Macron on Trump handshake