The photo of Donald Trump and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron planting an oak tree in the garden of the White House symbolized the friendship shown by the two leaders.
100 years ago, American soldiers fought in France, in Belleau to defend our freedom. This oak tree (my gift to @realDonaldTrump) will be a reminder at the White House of these ties that bind us. pic.twitter.com/AUdVncaKRN
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) April 24, 2018
But relations between them have since frayed – over issues ranging from Iran to trade – and the tree, a diplomatic source said this week, did not survive.
The French president offered the young oak to Trump on the occasion of a state visit to Washington in 2018, and the two shoveled dirt around it under the watchful eyes of their wives – and cameras from around the world.
The French president gave the young oak tree to @realDonaldTrump during a state visit to the US saying it's a reminder of the "ties that bind us" 🌱 – but it reportedly died in quarantine https://t.co/CIbaO9rI7h
— Sky News (@SkyNews) June 10, 2019
It was a symbolic gesture: the tree came from a northern French forest where 2,000 US Marines died during the First World War.
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But a few days later, the tree was nowhere to be seen, having disappeared into quarantine.
Tree planted at White House by Trump and Macron appears to have vanished https://t.co/mPmmdRWpPp
— Guardian news (@guardiannews) April 29, 2018
“It is a quarantine which is mandatory for any living organism imported into the US,” Gerard Araud, then the French ambassador to America, wrote on Twitter, adding that it would be replanted later.
But it was never replanted: the tree died during its quarantine, the diplomatic source said.
US media noted soon after it was planted last year that the tree had disappeared. It later emerged the tree had been removed and taken into quarantine, to avoid introducing any European blight or parasites. The quarantine is mandatory for any living organism imported to the US.
When the two leaders appeared alongside each other in Normandy last week to mark the 75th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied France, Macron spoke in favor of multilateralism, subtly beseeching the US leader to pursue international cohesion.
Now French media have revealed that the tree died while in quarantine, where it was intended.
AFP with additional input by GVS news desk