President Donald Trump’s off-again, on-again summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is known for its high diplomatic stakes, but on this day in 1961, President John F. Kennedy was preparing for a tense summit of his own with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev.
Just as Trump and Kim have planned to meet in Singapore, Kennedy and Khrushchev were also set to meet on neutral ground: Vienna, Austria. Several days before their June 3 meeting, Kennedy and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy began their trip with a stop in Paris.
Best layover ever? (You can see highlights in the Instagram video above.)
“No two events in the past 200 years have had more lasting impact than the French Revolution and the American Revolution,” Kennedy remarked, tying the US to its longtime Western ally ahead of talks with its then-adversary.
French President Charles de Gaulle welcomed Kennedy on his first trip to Europe as President. De Gaulle honored the Kennedys with a state dinner, setting an example of diplomatic hospitality also shown by current French President Emmanuel Macron.
“I come [to France] not merely because of the past, but because of future associations in defense of the West – in defense of freedom everywhere,” Kennedy said, hinting at Western Europe’s then-tempestuous relationship with the Soviet Union.
Kennedy’s eventual summit with Khrushchev did not go well, but at least he always had Paris.