“Personally, if you ask me, I do not share the fascination for new strong powers, the abandonment of freedom and the illusion of nationalism,” Macron said, in remarks that could easily be seen as a rebuke for Trump’s enthusiasm for some of the world’s most autocratic “strongman” rulers.
Macron also made a full-throated argument for global action to combat climate change, built around the 2015 Paris accord, which Trump announced in June he was walking away from.
“What is the meaning of our life if we [are] destroying the planet while sacrificing the future of our children?” the French president asked. “Let us face it. There is no planet B.”
He said the rift over the Paris accord was but a “short-term disagreement”.
“In the long run, we will have to face the same reality that we are citizens of the same planet,” he added.
“I’m sure one day the United States will come back and join the Paris agreement,” Macron declared, to whoops and cheers from the Democratic ranks.
He had an even more direct rebuke for his host’s resort to tariffs as an instrument of trade policy. Macron said that the right way to correct trade imbalances and overcapacity was to negotiate through the World Trade Organisation.
“We wrote these rules. We should follow them,” the visiting president said.
On the Iran nuclear agreement, Macron repeated an idea he had promoted on Tuesday at a White House meeting with Trump for a “new deal” that would complement the 2015 accord with a broader remit to address Iranian ballistic missile development and its military role across the Middle East.
Iran, Macron said would “never possess any nuclear weapons” but he added: “This policy should never lead us to war in the Middle East.”
He called for respect for the sovereignty of Iran and its ancient civilisation, and urged the west not to “repeat past mistakes”, an apparent reference to the 2003 Iraq invasion.
Both the US and France endorsed the JCPOA, he pointed out, adding: “We should not abandon it without something more substantial in its place.”
In a tweet after his speech to Congress, Macron added: “We decided with President [Trump] to work on a new comprehensive deal” which would address Iranian missiles and its regional role, and make limits on Iranian nuclear activities permanent.
On Tuesday, Trump had stopped short of voicing support for Macron’s idea of a supplemental agreement, or set of agreements, on non-nuclear issues but had suggested he might at least reconsidering his vow to abrogate the JCPOA by declining to extend sanctions.