Macron Takes an ‘Enchanted’ Literary Break Before G-20 Reality Check

(Bloomberg) -- Emmanuel Macron sometimes dreams of the writer he will one day become. But for now he still has to be a leader.

The French President spent a portion of his first morning in South America conversing with a group of Argentine writers and thinkers on literature, the “infinite and inexhaustible” trove of language and sources of imagination. The impromptu salon took place at "El Ateneo", one of Buenos Aires’ most iconic bookshops, nestled in a baroque building that also houses a cafe.

Macron and the writers sipped coffee and talked about his love for French authors Jean Echenoz and Pierre Lemaitre and the works of Argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges. He promised to help the publication in France of Borges’s personal diary.

The 40 year-old president — who refers to writers and philosophers in his speeches no matter the topic — has written a book called “Revolution” published during his race to power and said he still writes every day.

It was “an enchanted break”, Macron said.

The respite came before Macron returns to the blunt reality of different talks he is expected to conduct while participating in the summit of Group of 20 nations. Macron has meetings scheduled with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He may also get time with U.S. President Donald Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

With Trump, Macron is hoping to ease tensions that arose two weeks ago. After their Paris lunch and World War 1 commemoration ceremony, Trump lashed out at Macron in a series of tweets in response to a speech by the French president where he said nationalism is anti patriotic -- a hardly disguised criticism of some of Trump’s views.

The Saudi war in Yemen, and the probe of the murder of critic Jamal Khashoggi, will be on the agenda for any chat with Prince Mohammed. The crisis in Ukraine is set to dominate a conversation with Putin.

Earlier at El Ateneo while still with the writers, Macron expressed admiration for their discipline. “Once I will be done with all that I will come back to the truth," he said. "But I don’t know when that will be.”

As aides and security personnel ushered him to his next appointment, Macron’s break was over.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.