WASHINGTON (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday (April 24) he and French President Emmanuel Macron could have an agreement soon on the Iran nuclear deal.
“I think we really had some substantive talks on Iran. And we’re looking forward to doing something,” Mr Trump told reporters after a meeting at the White House with Mr Macron.
“We could have at least an agreement among ourselves very quickly. I think we’re fairly close to understanding each other.”
Mr Trump warned Iran not to restart its nuclear programme as Mr Macron urged him to remain in the international agreement curbing the Islamic Republic's atomic efforts.
Mr Trump made his differences with Mr Macron clear from the outset of a state visit on Tuesday (April 24), beginning an Oval Office meeting by saying the Iran deal was "insane, ridiculous, should never have been made".
The US President also warned Iran not to resume its nuclear programme, even if the international accord collapses and US sanctions resume.
"If they restart their nuclear programme, they're going to have bigger problems than ever before," Mr Trump said.
No European leader has a better relationship with the president, and Mr Macron hopes to tap that goodwill to persuade Mr Trump not to abandon an international agreement to curb Iran's nuclear programme.
He was not able to keep the US President from backing out of the Paris climate accord, but has nonetheless urged Mr Trump to stick to American commitments to reduce carbon pollution.
Mr Macron urged the President to consider the nuclear deal "in a wider regional context", including the situation in Syria, where the US, France and Britain recently launched a joint strike to retaliate against the regime's use of chemical weapons on rebels.
"We have a common objective," Mr Macron said. "We want to make sure there's no escalation and no nuclear proliferation in the region. We now need to find the right path forward."
The state visit officially began on Tuesday morning, with a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House featuring 500 members of the US Armed Forces. Cabinet secretaries, members of Congress, military families and students from a French immersion school in Maryland were invited to attend.
Mr Macron used the occasion to urge Mr Trump to maintain past US commitments to joint action with allies.
"It is together that we can resist the rise of aggressive nationalisms that deny our history and divide the world," Mr Macron said in French, according to a translation.
"It is together that we will build a new, strong multilateralism that defends pluralism and democracy in the face of ill winds."
"We do not always agree on the solutions," Mr Macron said of climate change. "But it is also where the fate of our children is at stake."
Mr Trump welcomed Mr Macron by celebrating "the wonderful friendship we have developed over the past year", which he said "is a testament to the enduring friendship" between the US and France.
He predicted that Mr Macron "is going to be a great President of France".
Mr Trump is delivering Mr Macron the most lavish welcome for a foreign leader of his presidency so far, including his first state dinner.
The fanfare is intended to rival Mr Trump's reception in France last year, where he attended Bastille Day celebrations and was feted with a military parade along the Champs-Élysées and dinner at the Eiffel Tower.
On Monday (April 23) evening, Mr Trump, Mr Macron and their wives toured Washington's monuments in the Marine One helicopter and landed at Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, for a dinner.
The two leaders will hold a series of meetings on Tuesday morning and a news conference ahead of dinner at the White House.
The state dinner on Tuesday night will feature American food with French influences, including goat cheese gateau, rack of spring lamb, Carolina Gold rice jambalaya, and a nectarine tart and creme fraiche ice cream.