Trump hails 'beautiful friendship' with France at administration's first state dinner

Emmanuel Macron was the guest of honour at the 123-guest dinner

Trump hails 'beautiful friendship' with France at administration's first state dinner

President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron share a toast during the State Dinner at the White House in Washington. Picture by: Susan Walsh/AP/Press Association Images

Donald Trump has toasted to a "great relationship" with French President Emmanuel Macron at the first state dinner of his administration.

The pair raised their glasses to continued friendship between France and the USA, with Mr Trump asking that their "kinship grow even stronger" and Macron hailing an "unbreakable bond" between the states.

Their speeches followed a day of public affection, with the two leaders kissing each other on the cheek, embracing for extended periods and and Mr Trump appearing to to brush "dandruff" off Mr Macron's blazer before calling him "perfect".

Mr Macron was the guest of honour at the 123-guest dinner, reportedly organised by Melania Trump.

Macron's trip was the first official state visit of Mr Trump's administration, one the US President said marked a "beautiful friendship forged in revolution" that had "changed the course of history".

Among the wide-ranging issues up for debate was security, trade and the Iran nuclear deal, which the US leader branded "insane" and "a disaster".

But Mr Trump and Mr Macron vowed to try and resolve differences over Iran, despite the billionaire tycoon not sending a clear signal on whether he would abandon the international nuclear deal with Tehran - which has been seen in the West as preventing Iran from building a nuclear bomb.

'A new deal'

At a joint press conference following talks, the French leader said the pair had discussed "a new deal" to strengthen the 2015 accord, taking on Mr Trump's concerns and addressing Iran's expansion in the Middle East and its ballistic missile programme.

The US leader warned of repercussions for Iran if it restarted its nuclear programme. "If Iran threatens us in any way, they will pay a price like few countries have ever paid," he said.

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has since said the country would "most likely" abandon the nuclear deal if Mr Trump was to pull the US out of the agreement.

The presidents also discussed the crisis in Syria, with Mr Macron urging his counterpart to keep US forces in the country to ensure the defeat of ISIS militants.

Mr Trump did not promise to keep troops in Syria but did say he would not withdraw forces straight away.

He said: "We want to come home. We'll be coming home. But we want to leave a strong and lasting footprint."

The talks come after the US, France and UK launched missile strikes in Syria this month to respond to an alleged chemical weapons attack in the town of Douma.

During the talks, the US President also informed Mr Macron that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un - who he called "very open minded" and "honourable" - wanted to meet "as soon as possible".

Earlier in the day, at the welcome ceremony, Mr Macron told Mr Trump, their countries would defeat terrorism, put an end to the threat of nuclear weapons from Iran and North Korea and act together on behalf of the planet, referring to the French leader's efforts to bring the US back into the Paris climate accord.

"History is calling us. It is urging our people to find the fortitude that has guided us in the most difficult of times," said Mr Macron. "France and with it, Europe, and the United States have an appointment with history."