July 13, 2017 / 3:53 PM / a month ago

After crunching handshake, Macron shows new chemistry with Trump

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes U.S. President Donald Trump at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, July 13, 2017.Gonzalo Fuentes

PARIS (Reuters) - After a white-knuckle handshake in May that President Emmanuel Macron described as a "moment of truth" for Donald Trump, the Frenchman on Thursday welcomed the U.S. president to France with smiles and a gentle hand on the shoulder.

If the Brussels handshake, that was followed a day later by Macron's bodyswerve away from Trump at a lineup of leaders, defined the awkward start to their relationship, Thursday's welcome was designed to show a newfound chemistry.

"Emmanuel, nice to see you. This is so beautiful," Trump beamed as he stepped out his limousine and looked back along the cobbled driveway of the Hotel des Invalides in central Paris.

The two men would appear to have little in common. Trump, 71, is an anti-globalist elected on a pledge to "make America great again" who is unpredictable on foreign policy. Macron, 39, is an ardent European integrationist more than three decades younger.

During Trump's visit, they will, nonetheless, seek common ground on diplomatic and military endeavours. Both Trump and Macron have a political interest in building rapport.

After greeting Macron, Trump turned to a white-clad Brigitte Macron, appearing to go for a handshake before holding her shoulders and offering a kiss on the cheeks.

The two presidents, holding the hands of their wives, later walked through the ornate crypt of the 17th century military complex where Napoleon is buried.

Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Richard Lough

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