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Remarks at a State Dinner Honoring President Emmanuel Macron of France

April 24, 2018

President Trump. President Macron, Brigitte, Melania and I are profoundly honored to host you and your entire French delegation for our first official state dinner. And to America's absolutely incredible First Lady, thank you for making this an evening we will always cherish and remember. Thank you, Melania.

Tonight we celebrate nearly two-and-half centuries of friendship between the United States and France. Yesterday we had a wonderful visit to Mount Vernon, a place that is truly special in the history of this very remarkable friendship. It was there that General George Washington met with General Rochambeau to finalize battle plans for victory at Yorktown. Many, many victories. It was there, after the war, that General Lafayette returned to visit his adoptive father, George Washington. Lafayette named his only son after Washington as a tribute to respect and love for his dear friend.

And there, at Mount Vernon, hanging on the wall for all to see, is the key to the Bastille, a gift from Lafayette to Washington. This tool of imprisonment had become a symbol of liberty, the desire for freedom that burns brightly in the heart of every French and American patriot.

This is the divine flame, which Victor Hugo wrote that "evil can never wholly extinguish," and which "good can make to glow with splendor." This is the flame that spurred American soldiers to join the French on the battlefields of World War I. This is the "Flame of French Resistance" of which Charles de Gaulle rallied his country in 1940. More than a million Frenchmen took up arms to defeat fascism in World War II. And this is the conviction that unites the French and American soul as we work together every day to build a future that is more just, prosperous, and free.

The veins that link our nations are forged in battle, strengthened through trial, and defined by the timeless principles that make us who and what we are: respect for life, love for our neighbors, pride in our traditions, defense of our heritage, and reverence for the rights bestowed on us through grace and the glory of God.

So tonight I ask that we raise our glasses as I offer this toast to President Macron and Brigitte, to the French delegation, and to every proud citizen of France. May our friendship grow even deeper, may our kinship grow even stronger, and may our sacred liberty never die.

God bless you, God bless France, God bless our alliance, and God bless America. Thank you, Mr. President.

[At this point, President Trump offered a toast.]

President Macron. Mr. President, dear Donald, Madam First Lady, dear Melania, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends: It is an honor for Brigitte and me to be here with you in this legendary place, the White House, for this sumptuous dinner surrounded by friends of France that you were so kind to invite.

This White House, so full of history, that the British burned down in 1815—and I say this in the most amicable way—and that James Monroe then had the brilliant idea of decorating with French furniture—[laughter]—a man of taste. In fact, he was a former Ambassador to Paris. I want to thank you, dear Melania, to paying tribute to this joint history, thanks to the gift you kindly gave us this morning.

Mr. President, you just reminded us, like we did earlier this morning, how deep, how strong, and how intense the relationship is between our two countries. This relationship, from the very beginning, is rooted in the revolution that saw the birth of the United States of America and the revolution that freed us, all along our joint history, through the wars that we have led together for freedom and to defend our value; this relationship, which is based on all of our values.

And tonight my thoughts go to the young Lafayette who came to risk his life because of his love for freedom. And my thoughts also go to the tens of thousands of American soldiers, young soldiers, who gave their lives during World War I and World War II on a soil which was not theirs, but for this freedom which they cherished and which was theirs.

We have always been there for the appointments of this joint history. And this is the reason why today we have no alternative but to be there also for an appointment with history. There is a joint willingness on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean to build our countries, to make them stronger—greater, you would say—and more solid. But let us now forget that our task, accordingly, is to always be more ambitious. Our task, at the head of the United States and at the head of France, is always about the statute of universality for which so many generations sacrificed themselves.

These values that we support, ladies and gentlemen, you very much represent them—you who are here with us tonight—be it in the field of culture, science, sport, the economic life, the political life, or diplomacy. There is always this little extra which you represent, because you're French, because you're American.

This is the reason why, Mr. President, we decided to work together for both our countries and also because this duty is about something that goes beyond us. And this is also the reason why our military took legitimate action a few days ago. This is also the reason why we will work for stability and to preserve our values. This is, Mr. President, the only way we both have to deal with history that goes beyond us, the duty that is ours. And many comment on our friendship, but I think it only helps us work together towards these goals.

On both sides of the ocean, some 2 years ago, very few would have bet on us being here together today. But as a matter of fact, we share the same determination and the willingness to serve both our countries—your country, my country—and the rest of the world. I got to know you; you got to know me. We both know that none of us easily changes his mind. But we will work together, and we have this ability to listen to one another. This is the reason why our relationship will serve our strong history. And we are also aware of the challenges ahead of us, but we will keep working together. And for the quality of our exchanges, I would like to thank you for this, as well as for your invitation.

Mr. President, dear Donald, dear Melania: Thank you. Thank you for honoring France, for honoring me and Brigitte and the French delegation with this first state visit, which is commensurate to the quality and the level of the bonds between our two countries.

And in turn, please allow me to raise my glass. Please allow me to raise my glass to all our fellow citizens on both sides of the ocean who fought for our values. Please allow me to raise my glass. We have to be up to the debt and to their—that we owe them and up to their sacrifice. Please allow me to raise my glass to the friendship, the unbreakable friendship, between France and the United States. [President Macron offered a toast.]

NOTE: The President spoke at 8:52 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House. President Macron spoke in French, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.

Donald J. Trump, Remarks at a State Dinner Honoring President Emmanuel Macron of France Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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