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Trump and Macron planted a tree — but where did it go?

President Donald J. Trump (L) and First Lady Melania Trump (2R) pose with French President Emmanuel Macron (R) and his wife Brigitte Macron (2L) as they participate in a tree planting in front of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 23 April 2018. President Macron will be in DC for three days for a state visit at the White House and an address to a joint session of Congress on 25 April. EPA-EFE/SHAWN THEW

The photograph was seen around the world: US President Donald Trump and France's Emmanuel Macron, gilded spades in hand, shovelling dirt over a young sapling.

A week ago, at the beginning of Macron’s visit to Washington, the French president joined his American counterpart to throw handfuls of soil on the roots of a young oak tree as their respective first ladies looked on

It was a symbolic gesture: the tree came from a northern French forest where 2,000 US Marines died during the First World War.

But a few days later, the plant was nowhere to be seen.

Amid fervent speculation, France on Sunday came through with an explanation: the tree, now not just a plant but a symbol of US-French relations, had been placed in quarantine.

“It is a quarantine which is mandatory for any living organism imported into the US,” Gerard Araud, French ambassador to America, wrote on Twitter.

“It will be replanted afterwards.”

When a follower fired back that the caution seemed a bit late — given that the tree had already been planted — the diplomat went on to confirm that the roots had been enclosed in plastic. DM

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