Monday, April 30, 2018

Pain Deepens for Afghanistan's Media | Human Rights Watch

Patricia Gossman
Two years ago, Shah Marai, a photographer for Agence France Presse, described the pain of living in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, with little hope for a better future. “I don’t dare to take my children for a walk,” he wrote.  “All I think of are cars that can be booby-trapped, or of suicide bombers coming out of a crowd.”

His words were tragically prophetic. Shah Marai was one of nine journalists who died today when a bomber posing as a journalist blew himself up in a crowd of first-responders who had arrived on the scene of another suicide attack 20 minutes earlier. The blasts, just days before World Press Freedom Day, occurred near the headquarters of the National Directorate of Intelligence and other government buildings. In all, the twin bombings killed 29 people and injured at least 45, mostly civilians. The Islamic State of Khorason Province (ISKP), the local franchise of the Islamic State, has claimed responsibility.

Yar Mohammad Tokhi, a cameraman for Tolonews, also died in the attack, as did Mashal TV reporter Salim Talash and cameraman Ali Salimi; 1TV reporter Ghazi Rasouli and cameraman Nowruz Ali; and Radio Free Europe reporters Abadullah Hananzai, Maharram Durrani and Sabawoon Kakar.

To attack non-combatants aiding the wounded and dying is an attack on the right to health. Killing journalists is an attack on freedom of expression. Under the laws of war, deliberate attacks on civilians are war crimes. Posing as a journalist to carry out an attack is also perfidious, a war crime in which the attacker assumes civilian status. - Read More

Pain Deepens for Afghanistan's Media | Human Rights Watch

Opinion: Afghanistan blasts are an attack on press freedom

In a double suicide attack in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, one of the attackers mingled with reporters — and detonated the explosives. It was a calculated attack on press freedom, says DW's Sandra Petersmann.

At least nine reporters are dead, killed on the job. Killing civilians is a war crime, but who cares about such laws in places like Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo? On the Afghan battlefield, too, targeted attacks on civilians have become part of everyday life. 

Civilians are tortured and killed to demoralize the population, to make them docile and to silence them. Journalists are civilians, and when they are silenced, democracy itself is endangered.

Growing media sector seen as threat
According to eyewitness reports, the second attacker in Kabul carried a camera and pretended to be a reporter, mingling with the actual journalists reporting on the first explosion — the same journalists who risk their lives every single day to give the victims of the Afghanistan war a face and a voice. - Read More

Opinion: Afghanistan blasts are an attack on press freedom - DW

معرفی مختصر خبرنگاران رادیو آزادی که در حوادث امروز کابل شهید شدند

در دو انفجار که امروز دوشنبه در منطقه شش درک کابل صورت گرفت سه خبرنگار رادیو آزادی شهید شدند. - Read More

رادیو آزادی / رادیوی اروپای آزاد

Multiple Suicide Bombings In Afghanistan Leave Dozens Dead, Scores Wounded

Coordinated suicide bomb attacks near the Afghan intelligence agency building in Kabul have killed at least 25 people and wounded dozens more, including several journalists.

In a separate attack in the southern city of Kandahar, 11 schoolchildren were killed and 16 hurt when a suicide bomber in a truck targeted NATO-led forces.

In Kabul, the first explosion occurred when a suicide bomber riding a motorbike detonated outside the headquarters of Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security. When reporters rushed to the scene to cover that explosion, a second suicide bomber on foot struck, suggesting that journalists may have been among the intended targets.

If so, the deaths of at least eight reporters in the twin attacks is one of the worst attacks against journalists in Afghanistan's decades-long conflict, Najib Sharifi, director of the Afghan Journalist Safety Committee, said.

Kabul police spokesman Hashmat Stanekzai confirmed the casualty figures and said that four policemen were also among the dead.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack via its news agency. The group said it was targeting the intelligence headquarters.

In Kandahar, a suicide bomber drove his explosives-laden van into a foreign-force convoy, police said, according to Reuters. The 11 children killed were students at a nearby madrassa, or religious school, says Matiullah Zhman, a spokesman for Kandahar police quoted by Reuters. There was no immediate claim of responsibility in that attack.

A spokesman for Resolute Support, a NATO-led training mission for Afghan forces, says eight Romanian soldiers attached to the unit were also wounded in the attack.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with those wounded, and with the innocent Afghans whose lives were needlessly taken from them by the enemies of Afghanistan," Gen. John Nicholson, Resolute Support commander, said in a statement. - Read More

Multiple Suicide Bombings In Afghanistan Leave Dozens Dead, Scores Wounded

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Kim Jong Un Pledges To Shut Down Main Nuclear Test Site In May, South Korea Says

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un said the country will close down its main nuclear testing site sometime in May, South Korea says.

South Korean presidential press secretary Yoon Young-chan said Sunday that Kim agreed to the plan during a meeting between the leader and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday.

Kim also pledged to invite "experts and journalists" from both South Korea and the U.S. to visit the site to verify the deactivation.

South Korea did not specify an exact date for either event.

"The U.S. is constitutionally averse to North Korea, but through dialogue, it will become apparent that we have no intention to target South Korea, the Pacific Ocean or the U.S. with nuclear weapons," Yoon quoted Kim as saying. "If we are able to build trust with the U.S. through frequent meetings, and promises to end war, and practice a policy of non-aggression, there's no reason for us to live a hard life with nuclear weapons." - Read More

Kim Jong Un Pledges To Shut Down Main Nuclear Test Site In May, South Korea Says

U.S. Economic Growth Slowed To 2.3 Percent

U.S. economic growth slowed in the first three months of the year to a 2.3 percent annual rate, down from 2.9 percent at the end of last year.

One reason is that consumers didn't keep up with the blistering pace of spending at the beginning of the year, which means slower economic growth overall, analysts say. But, if recent trends are any indication, the economy will pick up steam soon.

During the last couple of years, growth was slow in the first three months, only to pick up again later in the year. Despite the slowdown, this year's economic growth did come in stronger than what economists had expected. The economy also fared better than the sluggish beginnings to 2016 and 2017.

Still, the 2.3-percent showing in January through March falls short of the Trump administration's target growth rate of 3 percent or more. Analysts are predicting the second quarter economic growth could be in that 3 percent range.

The first quarter growth rate issued by the Bureau of Economic Analysis is a first estimate and will be revised in coming months.

One reason for the apparent first-quarter sluggishness has less to do with actual economic activity and more to do with flaws in the government's seasonal adjustments in the winter months, analysts say.

But there are some real forces at work, too. Growth in consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity, slowed to a 1.1 percent rate in the first 3 months of the year, down from the lively 4 percent rate at the end of 2017. That's partly due to a natural slowdown from the holiday high to the winter doldrums. - Read More, NPR

U.S. Economic Growth Slowed To 2.3 Percent

Pompeo Urges Unity Among Gulf Countries, Pressure Against Iran

Mike Pompeo, on his maiden trip as U.S. secretary of state, is using the three-day visit in the Middle East to garner international support to pressure Iran to modify its nuclear program.

During a stop in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Sunday, Pompeo urged unity among the Gulf states — saying cooperation and easing of economic tensions with Qatar is "necessary."

Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have halted trade with Qatar, accusing the natural gas-rich nation of aiding terrorism and maintaining close ties with Iran. The discord between the Gulf states has frustrated U.S. officials' attempts to weaken the influence of Iran in the region.

"We've got a common challenge in Iran. I think they all recognize that," Pompeo said in remarks to reporters. "We're hopeful that they will in their own way figure out their dispute between them."

Pompeo's arrived in Riyadh shortly after Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen launched a barrage of missiles into Saudi Arabia, killing at least one person. The attack is the latest sign that the raging civil war in Yemen continues to further threaten stability in the region.

During the state visit, Pompeo also assured Saudi Arabia that the U.S. will follow through with President Trump's commitment to pull out of the 2015 Iran nuclear accord. The deal, reached under the Obama administration, essentially lifted economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbing its nuclear weapons program.

Echoing Trump's sentiment that the foreign policy was a "bad deal," Pompeo said the accord has failed to moderate Iran's behavior. "In fact, Iran has only behaved worse since deal was approved," Pompeo said.

Pompeo told NATO leaders in Brussels on Saturday that unless a substantial fix is made, the U.S. is unlikely to remain in the deal. - Read More

Pompeo Urges Unity Among Gulf Countries, Pressure Against Iran

Friday, April 27, 2018

Global experts attend Paris conference to combat terrorist financing - FRANCE 24

Ministers from 80 countries and nearly 500 experts gathered in Paris on Wednesday and Thursday for a conference on combating the financing of terror groups such as Islamic State and al-Qaeda, French officials said.

Attacks have become increasingly low-cost since the 9/11 atrocities in the United States in 2001, particularly in recent years as followers of the Islamic State group have used vehicles and guns as their main weapon of choice.

But French authorities remain concerned about a huge war-chest amassed by IS group between 2014 and 2016 when it ruled over large swathes of oil-rich territory in Iraq and Syria.

A French presidential official briefing journalists on Tuesday said that IS group income was estimated at about one billion dollars (820 million euros) a year.

“It [the war chest] has been moved since, at least in part. It’s probably somewhere,” the official said on condition of anonymity. “These groups are very skilful in using sophisticated techniques to move financial resources around.” - Read More

US Ambassador To NATO Sees Commitment To Afghanistan As Long ...

Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison, a former senator, is the permanent representative of the United States to NATO. In an interview with Radio Free Afghanistan, she says the alliance is committed to Afghanistan until its people have the right conditions to build their country with freedom and equality of life.

RFE/RL: The Taliban have recently announced their spring offensive, vowing to attack in their words the Americans and their internal supporters. Do you see this as a rejection of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s unconditional and generous peace offer earlier this year?

Kay Bailey Hutchison: I am, of course, disappointed that the Taliban is talking about a spring offensive, and all of the terrorism that the people of Afghanistan have endured is very troubling and so sad that they have to go through this. I don’t think it’s a rejection. I think the Taliban are floundering. I think they have seen now a will of the people to stand up for their country. You see Afghan fighters who are doing such a good job. When we were there just at the end of February this year, every one of the divisions with the trainers from our NATO allies talked about how good the Afghan fighters were and committed for their own country’s freedom and the future.

The Taliban is now talking a lot behind the scenes, a lot of people in the tribes who know who the Taliban fighters are. It’s not an encouraging sign that they are going to attack; nevertheless, there is a resolve by President Ghani that he’s made an offer, he’s put it on the table that the violence must stop, and we must come to the table and talk about what’s good for Afghanistan. He is not giving up, and neither are the allies that are supporting the people of Afghanistan for a life that they could not imagine they could have, but which they now see in their future.

RFE/RL: Regarding the U.S. South Asia strategy, more than seven months ago President Trump said Pakistan harbored terrorist groups on its soil. Islamabad denies this. Has Pakistan changed its policies toward the U.S. and Afghanistan in the region?

Hutchison: It’s time Pakistan became a real contributor to the stabilization of Afghanistan. We think it could do more. We know they have familial ties with people in Afghanistan. But they have the ability to stop the terrorist networks from trafficking between Afghanistan and Pakistan. They have the ability to have a say with the Haqqani network and the Taliban. To see this destructive behavior is not a positive. It’s not a positive for Afghanistan, but it’s not a positive for Pakistan [either].

Pakistan needs to realize they are in danger of being isolated by the international community, [which] wants the stabilization of Afghanistan, and they expect Pakistan to be a leader in that effort.” - Read More
U.S. Ambassador To NATO Sees Commitment To Afghanistan As Long-Term

Trump Press Conference With German Chancellor Merkel - Full Event

President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hold a joint press conference. - Read More

Trump Press Conference With German Chancellor Merkel - YouTube

Merkel lobbies Trump on trade and Iran

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she will stay in close touch with US President Donald Trump on the Iran nuclear deal, which he could scrap.
Mrs Merkel described the 2015 international accord as a "first step" that prevented Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.

Mr Trump vowed to never let Iran have nuclear weapons, but would not say if he would consider military force.

Mrs Merkel was in Washington for a brief "working visit" with Mr Trump.

The optics of her trip contrasted starkly with the pomp and ceremony rolled out for French President Emmanuel Macron during his glitzy state earlier visit this week.

The German leader's differences with the US president on trade were laid bare at their Friday afternoon press conference.

She hoped to persuade Mr Trump not to impose US tariffs on European steel and aluminium products.

Berlin expects a US exemption on global duties to expire on 1 May. - Read More

Merkel lobbies Trump on trade and Iran - BBC News

Angela Merkel and Donald Trump stress unity amid differences

US President Donald Trump afforded German Chancellor Angela Merkel a warm welcome at the White House Friday, calling her an "extraordinary woman."

But Merkel's "working trip," which follows French President Emmanuel Macron's state visit to the United States, did not appear to bring significant progress on a range of disagreements, including US tariffs and Trump's opposition to the Iran nuclear deal.

Iran: Trump said "we must make sure that this murderous regime does not get nuclear weapons." Merkel said the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran was a "first step" toward curtailing Iran's ambitions in the Middle East. "But we also think ... that this is not sufficient in order to see to it that Iran's ambitions are curbed and contained," she added.

US tariffs: Merkel said the two leaders had "an exchange of views" on whether the US would extend an EU exemption for US tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, but gave no further details. "The decision [on whether to grant the extension] lies with the president," she said.

Defense spending: Trump said NATO allies need to "spend 2 percent and hopefully much more of GDP on defense," he added without explicitly mentioning Germany. Merkel said Germany's defense budget would increase in 2019 and that it was on its way to meeting the 2 percent goal.

Trade deficits: Trump said the US wants a "fair and reciprocal" trade with European countries and cited the US's trade deficit with the European Union. Merkel said Germany wanted "fair trade" in line with global trading rules. She also hinted at opening negotiations on a bilateral US-EU trade deal. - Read More, DW

Angela Merkel visits Donald Trump in Washington | News | DW | 27.04 ..

Korean leaders set 'denuclearization' goal, Trump says will maintain pressure

SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The leaders of North and South Korea pledged at a historic summit on Friday to work for “complete denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula, but U.S. President Donald Trump said he would maintain pressure on Pyongyang through sanctions ahead of his own unprecedented meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

The meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in produced a day of dramatic images and a sweeping declaration of goodwill. But it was short on specific commitments and failed to clear up the question of whether Pyongyang is really willing to give up nuclear missiles that now threaten the United States.

Meeting at the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone that has divided the Koreas for more than six decades, Kim and Moon announced they would work with the United States and China this year to declare an official end to the 1950s Korean War, and establish a permanent peace agreement.

In an event marked by smiles, handshakes and embraces, they also promised to pursue phased arms reduction, cease hostile acts, transform their fortified border into a peace zone and seek talks involving other countries, including the United States.”The two leaders declare before our people of 80 million and the entire world there will be no more war on the Korean peninsula and a new age of peace has begun,” the two sides said.

But even as they agreed on a common goal of a “nuclear-free” peninsula, they stopped short of spelling out exactly what that meant or how it might come about. - Read More

Korean leaders set 'denuclearization' goal, Trump says will maintain pressure

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Despite Coziness With Trump, Macron Highlights Differences Between U.S. And France

One day after President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron were seen embracing and holding hands during the French leader's state visit to the U.S., Macron took issue with the U.S. leader's views on several items, including Iran and the environment, during a speech to a joint meeting of Congress.

Macron joked about his relationship with his U.S. counterpart. Speaking of a 1778 meeting between Ben Franklin and the French philosopher Voltaire, Macron noted the two men were seen "kissing each other's cheeks."

"It can remind you of something," Macron quipped.

Still Macron painted a portrait of some stark differences between himself and Trump during Wednesday's speech in the packed House chamber.

The two countries share a determination that Iran, as Macron put it "shall never possess any nuclear weapons...not in five years, not in ten years, never." But the French leader pointedly noted "there is an existing framework" to control Iran's nuclear ambitions. "We signed it," Macron said, "at the initiative of the United States." Macron said it is his position that "we should not abandon it without having something ....more substantial instead," drawing applause from those in the chamber who oppose President Trump's threats to abandon the accord. - Read More, NPR

Despite Coziness With Trump, Macron Highlights Differences Between U.S. And France

HUD Unveils Plan To Increase Rent On Millions Receiving Federal Housing Assistance

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson wants Americans living on housing assistance to put more of their income toward rent and he wants to give public housing authorities the ability to impose work requirements on tenants.

Under current law, most tenants who get federal housing assistance pay 30 percent of their adjusted income toward rent, and the government kicks in the rest up to a certain amount.

According to the HUD plan unveiled Wednesday, the amount many renters would pay jumps to 35 percent of gross income.

In some cases, rental payments for some of the neediest families would triple, rising from a minimum of $50 per month to a minimum of $150, according to HUD officials. Some 712,000 households would see their rents jump to $150 per month under the proposal, the officials said.

The rent overhaul requires congressional approval. If passed, the changes in how rent is calculated could impact many of the 4.7 million families HUD helps to obtain affordable housing. - Read More, NPR

HUD Unveils Plan To Increase Rent On Millions Receiving Federal Housing Assistance

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The complete guest list for President Donald Trump's first state dinner

(CNN) - President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump are hosting the administration's first state dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte.

Apple CEO Tim Cook and media mogul Rupert Murdoch are among the guest attending Tuesday night's dinner at the White House, along with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Here's the complete list of expected attendees provided by the White House, specifically the Office of the First Lady: - Read More

The complete guest list for Trump's first state dinner - CNNPolitics

First Trump State Dinner Brings Billionaires And Administration Officials

There's arguably nothing grander in the nation's capital than a state dinner.

The red carpet gets rolled out, the silverware is shined, and the coveted guest list is winnowed down.

State dinners are intricate diplomatic dances filled with pageantry and symbolism — and they take months to plan. The world is watching and every choice from the china pattern to the flowers is scrutinized.

First lady Melania Trump carefully prepped for Tuesday night's state dinner honoring French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte, the first of the Trump administration and a big moment for a first lady who prefers to keep a low profile.

The evening got underway around 6 p.m., as the first of 120 guests arrived, posing for the cameras in front of a wall of French and American flags.

Among the first guests to arrive were Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen. Reporters asked Mrs. Pence how Melania was doing in her role. The vice president answered instead, saying simply "breathtaking."

Other familiar Trump administration faces included Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, Chief of Staff John Kelly, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, White House aide Stephen Miller, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

With nods to her predecessors, first lady Melania opted to use the Clinton and George W. Bush china for the dinner service, to match the color scheme of cream and gold. - Read More, NPR

First Trump State Dinner Brings Billionaires And Administration Officials

WATCH: President Trump Joint Press Conference with President of France Emmanuel Macron

Tuesday, April 24, 2018: Watch live as President Donald J. Trump holds a joint press conference with the President of France Emmanuel Macron. - Read More

LIVE: President Trump Joint Press Conference with ... - YouTube

Facebook Updates Community Standards, Expands Appeals Process

Facebook announced changes to its content review policy Tuesday, adding an appeals process for removed content and releasing the internal guidelines it relies on to make content determinations.

While the social media giant has listed a set of publicly available community standards for several years, the latest update includes the more detailed guidelines that content reviewers use internally when deciding whether to allow or remove posts.

The updated appeals process will allow posters of removed photos, videos or posts to contest determinations they feel were wrongly made. Previously, appeals of community standards determinations were allowed only when a Facebook page, group or profile was removed entirely.

Facebook has been hesitant to reveal details of its content review policy in the past. But the company says Tuesday's announcement is part of its promise to "do better" and be more transparent about how it decides what stays up and what gets taken down. The changes come just weeks after CEO Mark Zuckerberg was grilled on Capitol Hillabout Facebook's alleged censorship of conservative viewpoints.

Zuckerberg was asked by multiple lawmakers during his marathon testimony about "Diamond and Silk,"two pro-Trump commentators who claim Facebook intentionally limited their presence on the site because of their political views. Zuckerberg apologized, calling the situation an "enforcement error" on Facebook's part, but the controversy raised questions about what type of content Facebook restricts and how it makes those decisions. Diamond and Silk are themselves set to testify before Congress later this week. - Read More

Facebook Updates Community Standards, Expands Appeals Process

Senate panel narrowly endorses Mike Pompeo for secretary of state after Trump intervenes with key Republican - washingtonpost

Secretary of state nominee Mike Pompeo narrowly eked out an endorsement from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday after President Trump and a Democratic senator intervened at the last minute, all but guaranteeing that he will be confirmed by the full Senate later this week.

Pompeo had seemed unlikely to secure a majority of the panel’s support. But Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who had pledged to oppose him, tweeted moments before the vote that Trump had talked with him and changed his mind.

Paul’s key concern had been that Pompeo, currently director of the CIA, would not support Trump’s campaign pledge to pull troops out of Afghanistan. The senator also had called on Pompeo “to support President Trump’s belief that the Iraq war was a mistake.”

“Having received assurances from President Trump and Director Pompeo that he agrees with the President on these important issues, I have decided to support his nomination to be our next secretary of state,” Paul said.

The panel’s vote was largely symbolic, since Pompeo had secured enough votes to be confirmed by the full Senate earlier in the day, when two Democrats facing difficult reelection challenges in 2018 — Sens. Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) — announced that they would back his nomination on the floor.

But Trump’s supporters were determined to have Pompeo enter office without the mark of being the first secretary of state in almost a century to fail a committee vote.

The committee ultimately voted 11 to 10 along party lines to endorse Pompeo. But because of a quirk in the Senate rules, the panel could not send its recommendation to the full Senate, as one of those 11 Republicans — Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) — was not present for the vote. He was out of town delivering a eulogy at his best friend’s funeral, senators said.

A negative vote on Pompeo’s nomination would not necessarily have precluded the full Senate from taking it up. But for GOP leaders, time was of the essence: They want Pompeo to be confirmed in time to attend a meeting of NATO foreign ministers Friday. - Read More

Senate panel narrowly endorses Mike Pompeo for secretary of state after Trump intervenes with key Republican

Monday, April 23, 2018

Trump hosts France's President Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte, arrived in the US today, marking the first state visit of Trump's presidency.

The couple joined President Trump and first lady Melania Trump at the White House, where they planted a European sessile oak tree on the South Lawn. They later boarded a helicopter to Mount Vernon, the riverfront estate of George Washington, for a private dinner.

The two leaders and their wives have a jam-packed schedule tomorrow. Here's what we know: - Read More, CNN

Trump hosts France's Macron: Live updates - CNN

US President Donald Trump on Monday welcomes his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, to Washington for a state visit aimed at cementing ties between their two countries.

Impressed by the warm welcome he received for the Bastille Day ceremony last July in Paris, the US president has returned the favour by making Emmanuel Macron the first foreign leader of the Trump era to receive a state visit – a prestigious honour that speaks volumes in the world of diplomacy.

Trump has invited his counterpart to Mount Vernon, the former residence of the first US president, for what the White House called a “private couples dinner” on Monday evening along with first ladies Melania Trump and Brigitte Macron. The choice of Mount Vernon is highly symbolic for the Franco-American relationship: It was there that the Marquis de Lafayette (one of the eight honourary citizens of the United States) used to visit his friend George Washington, who is buried at his erstwhile home. In 1790, Lafayette gave Washington the key to the Bastille as a symbol of their friendship, and it can still be seen by visitors to Mount Vernon today.

The Élysée presidential palace said it honours the close relationship between the two presidents and that this visit offers an opportunity to foster that spirit of reconciliation.

“The Franco-American relationship is cyclical,” explains Célia Belin, a political science analyst and researcher on transatlantic relations at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “There are moments of very strong agreement and understanding between the two countries. But there are other moments when it does not go as well, such as in 2003 with the dispute about the Iraq War. At this moment, we are, in a way, at the peak of the Franco-American relationship.” - Read More

Macron's Washington visit crucial to Franco-American relations ...