Published: June 10, 2019
A SPECIAL oak tree planted to “remind” the White House of ties binding America and France has mysteriously disappeared.
Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron’s symbolic “friendship tree” reportedly died just weeks after the leaders planted it together – leaving a patch of grass in its place.
3 President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron plant a tree watched by Trump's wife Melania and Macron's wife Brigitte on the grounds of the White House in Washington, DC on April 23, 2018 Credit: AFP or licensors
Its odd disappearance had left commentators stumped – until French media confirmed that the sapling had died.
Le Monde and Le Figaro have reported that the sapling died while undergoing an inspection, quoting a diplomatic source.
The tree’s death was a “metaphor for a relationship that isn’t what it was”, concluded Le Monde – referring to Macron and Trump’s prickly relationship, on the back of discord over everything from climate change to Iran and world trade.
The tree was a poignant gift from French President Emmanuel Macron for his state visit to US President Donald Trump last April.
At the time, Macron tweeted: “100 years ago, American soldiers fought in France, in Belleau to defend our freedom.
“This oak tree will be a reminder at the White House of these ties that bind us.”
'TIES THAT BIND'
The men were joined by their wives, Melania and Brigitte as they strode across the South Lawn for a photo op of them planting the tree together.
The oak originally sprouted at the World War I Battle of Belleau Wood in northern France, where about 2,000 American troops died fighting a German offensive.
But, weeks later, questions were raised about where the plant had gone.
At first, when quizzed last year, the French president's office fobbed reporters off by saying there was nothing mysterious about the disappearance of the oak tree the pair had planted on the White House lawn.
It was put in quarantine, like other plants or animals brought into US territory, they explained.
An official said both sides knew all along that the tree would go later into quarantine.
But just days later, the tree was noticeably absent from the White House.
A pictured emerged showing a patch of uneven, yellowed grass where the planting photo had been taken.
Trump and Macron's ongoing spats France hopes to discuss trade and climate with America at the upcoming summit of the Group of Seven most advanced economies, scheduled to take place in August in southwestern France. But Trump has not yet officially confirmed he will attend the summit. Security, the fight against terrorism, the situation in the Middle East, Libya and Ukraine were also on the agenda. The French president advocates for a stronger Europe in a globalised world. Macron positions himself as a bulwark against rising populism on the continent. He has also warned against the dangers of nationalism and isolationism — a position that is the opposite of Trump’s. When Trump travelled to France, for World War I commemorations last November, things went wrong. He blasted his French counterpart on Twitter while landing in Paris, for making an “insulting” proposal to build up Europe’s military to counter the US, China and Russia. Macron said he preferred to carry out his diplomacy through “direct discussion” rather than tweeting. The US President also tweeted last November against French tariffs on American wine and pointed to Macron’s “very low approval rate.” Since then, he has mocked Macron on Twitter about the yellow vest anti-government protests that have wracked France for more than six months, suggesting his climate policy was to blame.
3 Relations between the leaders have since frayed over issues ranging from Iran to trade Credit: AP:Associated Press