France's Macron Says He Didn’t Mean to Signal Shift in Trump's Position on Syria

Macron initially said he had convinced Trump to keep troops in Syria for the long term

French President Emmanuel Macron gestures as he speaks during a media conference with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Monday, April 16, 2018.
Charles Platiau/AP

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday he had not meant to signal a change in the U.S. position on Syria, after the White House rebuffed his suggestion he had dissuaded President Donald Trump from rapidly withdrawing U.S. troops. 

Macron on Sunday said he had convinced Trump, who previously announced he wanted to take U.S. forces out of Syria, that it was necessary to stay and be there for "the long term." 

The White House late on Sunday then issued a statement saying the U.S. view had not changed, and that Trump wanted U.S. forces to leave as quickly as possible and "completely crush ISIS." 

"The White House is right in saying that the military engagement is against Daesh (acronym for Islamic State) and will stop the day the war against Daesh will be over. France has the same view," Macron told reporters when asked about the White House statement, adding that there was no change in the U.S. position there and he had not indicated any. 

"But yes, I am right in saying that the United States, because they decided this intervention (the Saturday strikes) with us, fully realized that our responsibility goes beyond the war against Daesh and that there is also a humanitarian responsibility and a responsibility to build peace over the long term." 

Macron had also said in the interview broadcast by BFM TV, RMC radio and Mediapart online news that he had convinced Trump to focus the strikes on the chemical weapons sites. 

While it is unusual for a French president to present himself as driving U.S. policy in military matters in the Middle East, Macron and Trump have developed a friendly relationship over the past year.