Macron to put 'bromance' with Trump to the test during US visit
Updated 0854 GMT (1654 HKT) April 23, 2018
Paris (CNN)It was last July that US President Donald Trump laid bare the depth of his feelings for his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron.
For Trump, it was not the romantic dinner at the prestigious Le Jules Verne restaurant inside the Eiffel Tower, nor the rendition of Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" by a marching band that impressed, but that remarkable 29-second handshake.
Perhaps what appeared at first to be two men attempting to assert their own alpha male credentials was actually a sign of respect and admiration.
Whatever the case, by the time Trump left Paris after a whirlwind 36 hours that included a spectacular Bastille Day parade, he was sold on Macron.
"He's a great guy. Smart. Strong. Loves holding my hand," Trump told the New York Times after his visit to Paris.
"People don't realize he loves holding my hand. And that's good, as far as that goes."
"I mean, really. He's a very good person," Trump went on. "And a tough guy, but look, he has to be. I think he is going to be a terrific president of France. But he does love holding my hand."
Trump backed his comments up further in January when he afforded Macron the honor of being the first foreign leader invited for a state visit by the Trump administration.
The three-day visit, which begins on Monday, comes at a time when the pair are working to strengthen ties between their nations.
Beyond the bravado
At first glance, the relationship between Trump, a 71-year-old isolationist who enjoys cable news and long days on the golf course, and the 40-year-old Macron, a pro-European integrationist who likes to quote philosophers and extol the virtues of the arts, seems unlikely.
Indeed, their relationship got off to a rocky start at last May's NATO summit in Brussels, when Macron appeared to ignore Trump's outstretched hand and greeted German Chancellor Angela Merkel instead.
When the two did eventually shake hands, it was one that went viral online, with neither man ceding any ground.
But looking beyond the handshake and the bravado, the two men share a number of similarities.
Both based their presidential campaigns on being outsiders and enemies of the political elite. They took advantage of the public's dissatisfaction and disillusionment with mainstream political parties en route to winning their respective elections.
Trump, a real estate mogul, and Macron, a former investment banker, are both drawn to sealing good deals.
And they share a penchant for symbolism and showmanship, whether it be appearing on reality television or holding meetings amid the splendor of the Palace of Versailles.
And both men married women whom they are 24 years apart from -- Melania Trump is almost 24 years younger than the US President, and Brigitte Trogneux is roughly 24 years older than Macron.
The pair also share views on policy, notably on eliminating ISIS and battling against global terrorism.
More recently, Trump and Macron have been working together on eliminating Syria's chemical weapons capabilities.
This sense of potential cooperation has helped frame forthcoming talks as somewhat crucial, not only in terms of policy, but also in helping to reestablish what has been a historically strong US-France partnership.
Taking on Trump
For Macron, the stars have aligned. While British Prime Minister Theresa May has had to fend off criticism over her courtship of Trump, Macron has seen no need to hold back and has presented himself as Europe's spokesman.