The small oak, a ceremonial gift from France to the United States, was bestowed to Trump during Macron’s April 2018 state visit.
The oak tree was taken from the site of a key First World War battle, where the U.S. Marine Corps repelled a German offensive in the final year of the conflict a century ago.
After the tree was initially planted, it was then uprooted and put in quarantine — a normal procedure for any foreign plant brought into the U.S.
While in quarantine the tree died and was never replaced, according to France’s Le Monde newspaper, which was the first to report about the tree’s death.
In an interview with Swiss network Radio Télévision Suisse, Macron said he would give Trump a new tree to plant.
“We will send him another, it is not a tragedy,” he said. “Do not see symbols where there are none; the symbol was to plant it together. It turns out that this oak was put in quarantine for American sanitary reasons and the poor thing did not survive. I’ll send another oak because I think the U.S. marines and the friendship for freedom between our peoples is well worth it.”
Just over one year after the ceremonial planting, the dead tree has been viewed as a metaphor for the two leaders’ atrophied relationship — one that showed promise in the beginning. Things turned sour between the two men after Macron gave a speech about the dangers of nationalism in November 2018 while commemorating the 100-year anniversary of the First World War.
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Upon Trump’s return to American soil, he unleashed a Twitter rant about Macron’s supposed approval ratings.
He then closed with his famous phrase, with one altered word:
Macron never replied to the tweet storm, and the pair seemed to have mended fences (visibly, anyway) on Trump’s recent European visit for D-Day events.
The White House and Trump have not publicly commented on the tree’s death.
— With a file from Kevin Nielsen