Whatever the policy outcomes on individual issues, Emmanuel Macron’s three-day state visit to Washington, from April 23 to April 25, will have succeeded in one goal which is surely at the top of the French president’s agenda: to “Make France Great Again.” He did so by assuming the mantle of the leadership of the West, by acting not only as president of France, not only as president of Europe, but also as president of the free world. In so doing, Macron positioned himself as the equal of the American president, something no other world leader could contemplate today.

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French President Emmanuel Macron on April 25 delivered a rallying cry for Western world leaders to reject isolationism and stand together in defense of democracy. The remarks appeared to be directed at US President Donald J. Trump who has embraced an America first worldview.

“It is a critical moment,” Macron said in his address to a joint session of the US Congress, adding, “closing the doors to the world will not stop the evolution of the world.”

“Today, the international community needs to step up our game, and build a twenty-first century world order, based on the perennial principles we established together after World War II,” the French president said.

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French President Emmanuel Macron appears to be performing a delicate balancing act of addressing US President Donald J. Trump’s dissatisfaction with the Iran nuclear deal while seeking to keep the multilateral agreement intact.

Trump has been crystal clear since his presidential campaign that he views the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—the Iran nuclear deal—as a “bad deal.” He has criticized it as insufficient and unable to deny Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Further, he says it does not address Iran’s regional activities or curb its ballistic missile program. Trump has also made clear he wants a more effective mechanism to do all of the above.

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French President Emmanuel Macron said on April 24 that he wants to work on a “new deal” with Iran that would retain the 2015 nuclear agreement as a primary pillar.

The nuclear deal with Iran, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was negotiated by the P5+1 countries—the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, France, Germany—and Iran.

US President Donald J. Trump, standing alongside Macron at the White House earlier on April 24, called the JCPOA “insane.” Trump has set a May 12 deadline for the United States’ European partners to “fix” the deal. He has repeatedly held out the possibility of walking away from an agreement that he does not consider satisfactory.

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The future of the Iran nuclear deal—the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—hangs in the balance as the May 12 deadline set by US President Donald J. Trump to “fix” the deal or to walk away from it approaches.

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have preserving the JCPOA at the top of their agenda in meetings with Trump in Washington this week.

In an interview with Rachel Brandenburg, director of the Atlantic Council’s Middle East Security Initiative, the Atlantic Council’s Matthew Kroenig, deputy director for strategy in the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, and Aaron Stein, senior fellow in the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, offer different perspectives on whether the deal has worked and the possible consequences should Trump decide to pull out of the multilateral agreement.

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The US Treasury Department signaled on April 23 that the Russian aluminum giant, RUSAL, could have US sanctions lifted if the Kremlin-linked oligarch Oleg Deripaska divests his holdings in the firm.

The April 23 decision by Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to extend the deadline for investors to exit RUSAL is neither surprising nor unusual given the firm’s size.

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Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to Washington this week brings with it two significant risks and two singular opportunities.

By now the French president is well recognized as being the world leader most esteemed by, and in closest contact with, the US President Donald J. Trump. Here lie the risks.

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As French President Emmanuel Macron arrives in Washington, a top priority will be convincing his American counterpart to stay within the landmark nuclear agreement with Iran.

But judging from this analyst’s conversations with Iranian diplomats in Europe and New York over the past week, Macron and his colleagues in Germany and Britain may have an equally crucial task persuading Iran to remain within the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) if US President Donald J. Trump fails to reissue waivers of US sanctions on the next deadline, May 12.

Despite all the attention paid to the US-Iran aspect of the nuclear issue, Iran’s main expectation upon signing the JCPOA was that it would be able to restore and increase economic relations with Europe, traditionally Iran’s major trading partner.

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The free world (to put it in Washington wonk speak: the “rules-based, liberal global order”), the product of American leadership, which generated relative peace, prosperity, and democracy after 1945 and even more after 1989, faces aggression from without, most acutely from Russia; a long-range challenge from the rise of China; and, most alarming, doubts from within about the worth of our own system and values. 

The visits to Washington this week of Europe’s two most important leaders—French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel—take place against this background and the context of favorable but vulnerable economic growth (see the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) World Economic Report just out). The big question in this week’s talks is whether Europe’s leaders can influence US President Donald J. Trump to accept the value of the free world—America’s own creation—and not to trash it in favor of, ironically, the sort of Old European Great Power nationalism which brought ruin in the twentieth century.

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An increase in gas prices in the United States may have pushed US President Donald J. Trump to criticize the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in a tweet on April 20.

“Oil prices are artificially Very High! No good and will not be accepted!” Trump tweeted as OPEC and non-OPEC members met in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to assess their agreement to curtail production.

The tweet comes as the US benchmark for oil prices, WTI, is close to $69 per barrel, while the international benchmark Brent exceeded $73 per barrel.

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