French media say oak given as a gift by Macron and planted at the White House as part of charm offensive is no more.
The tree was planted in 2018 by Donald Trump and his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, at the White House as a symbol of their countries’ ties.
The oak was given as a gift to the US president during Macron’s visit in 2018. In a tweet at the time, Macron said: “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.”
Relations between the two leaders have since frayed – over issues ranging from Iran to trade. Le Monde first reported its demise last week, quoting a French diplomatic source, which was later confirmed by Le Figaro.
The French president offered the young oak to Trump on the occasion of a state visit to Washington in 2018, and the two shovelled dirt around it under the watchful eyes of Melania Trump, Brigitte Macron and cameras from around the world.
It was a symbolic gesture: the tree came from Belleau Wood, north-east of Paris, where 1,811 Americans died in a ferocious battle in June 1918 during the first world war.
But a few days later, the tree was nowhere to be seen, having disappeared into quarantine. Images showed only a yellow patch of grass in the spot on the White House South Lawn where the tree was planted.
“It is a quarantine which is mandatory for any living organism imported into the US,” Gerard Araud, who was then the French ambassador to the US, wrote on Twitter, adding that it would be replanted later.
But it was never replanted: the tree died during quarantine, a diplomatic source told a French news agency.