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article imageParis mayor slams 'unfriendly' Trump over safety row

By Anne BEADE (AFP)     Feb 27, 2017 in World

The mayor of Paris Monday slammed disparaging comments by Donald Trump about the French capital and immigration policies in Europe, suggesting the US president should focus on issues closer to home.

Trump gave a bombastic address to a conservative rally outside Washington Friday in which he defended his crackdown on immigrants and criticised long-time allies France, Sweden and Germany.

Singling out the French capital, which has suffered terror attacks by Islamist militants in recent years, he quoted a friend 'Jim' who refuses to visit the European city, saying "Paris is no longer Paris".

Mayor Anne Hidalgo responded the same day by tweeting a photo of Mickey and Minnie Mouse at the Eiffel Tower, following up with the hashtag #Donald&Jim in subsequent tweets pointing to a spike in American tourist figures this year.

"They are unfriendly comments," Hidalgo said Monday during a visit to Tokyo, adding: "As the president of France said, this is not something big countries say to each other."

"No one points out that a lot of crime in big US cities linked to the open sale of guns is a plague that takes many lives," she said.

A cycle hire stand in Paris
A cycle hire stand in Paris
PHILIPPE LOPEZ, AFP

French President Francois Hollande also mocked Trump by inviting him to Disneyland Paris.

Fears linked to terror attacks in France have scared off visitors in the past two years.

In November 2015, 130 people were killed in Paris when gunmen and suicide bombers from the Islamic State jihadist group attacked bars, restaurants, a concert hall and the Stade de France national stadium.

That attack came 10 months after two jihadist gunmen shot dead cartoonists and journalists at the Paris offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

Hidalgo on Monday again paid tribute to the strength of the French capital in standing up to terrorism.

"There is a risk of terrorism in all major cities," said Hidaldo, whose city is bidding to host the 2024 Olympics. "But Paris is doing well, Paris is a resilient city."

Hidalgo was in Japan to drum up tourism and inspect Tokyo 2020 Olympic sites.

Anne Hidalgo visits the construction site of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Aquatic Center on February 27  2...
Anne Hidalgo visits the construction site of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Aquatic Center on February 27, 2017
TORU YAMANAKA, AFP

"Japanese tourists are coming back again. There has been a very substantial increase in booking numbers -- up 80 percent in the first two months of this year compared to last year. That is very good news."

After meeting Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike, Hidalgo underlined her pledge to keep costs under control if Paris beats Los Angeles in the race to host the 2024 Olympics.

"We plan to be extremely cautious," she said. "We no longer live in a time when public finances can pay for venues that serve no (future) purpose.

The 2024 hosts will be decided by an International Olympic Committee vote this September in Lima.

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