Tapping President Trump's thigh, French President Macron seeks to defuse tensions

PARIS (AP) — First the never-ending handshake, then the dandruff brush — and now the thigh tap?

U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron have had an unusual relationship since their first white-knuckle handshake at a NATO meeting last year, as newly elected Macron appeared to be trying to match the American president on the world stage.

When Macron went to Washington in April, Trump was unusually affectionate, brushing flecks off the French leader's shoulder that he called dandruff and calling Macron "perfect."

Yet tensions between the men have grown in recent months. The globalist, progressive Macron and nationalist, protectionist Trump have clashed on climate change, world trade and how to deal with Iran. Trump shot off an angry tweet about Macron before their latest meeting on Saturday in Paris.

As they met, Macron stood firm but also seemed eager to keep up a show of camaraderie. He called Trump "my good friend" — and reached out to pat the American president on the thigh after a reporter asked them about the tweet.

Trump was cordial in the meeting. During the thigh tap, however, he sat stone-faced.

RELATED: Trump and Macron meet prior to commemorations marking 100 years since the end of WWI

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Trump and Macron meet prior to commemorations marking 100 years since the end of WWI
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Trump and Macron meet prior to commemorations marking 100 years since the end of WWI
US President Donald Trump (L) shakes hands with French president Emmanuel Macron prior to their meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on November 10, 2018, on the sidelines of commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the 11 November 1918 armistice, ending World War I. (Photo by Christophe Petit-Tesson / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE PETIT-TESSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (R) speaks with French president Emmanuel Macron prior to their meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on November 10, 2018, on the sidelines of commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the 11 November 1918 armistice, ending World War I. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (L) speaks with French president Emmanuel Macron prior to their meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on November 10, 2018, on the sidelines of commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the 11 November 1918 armistice, ending World War I. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (L) shakes hands with French president Emmanuel Macron prior to their meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on November 10, 2018, on the sidelines of commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the 11 November 1918 armistice, ending World War I. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (L) speaks s with French president Emmanuel Macron prior to their meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on November 10, 2018, on the sidelines of commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the 11 November 1918 armistice, ending World War I. (Photo by Christophe Petit-Tesson / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE PETIT-TESSON/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - US President Donald Trump (L) speaks s with French president Emmanuel Macron prior to their meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on November 10, 2018, on the sidelines of commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the 11 November 1918 armistice, ending World War I. (Photo by Christophe Petit-Tesson / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE PETIT-TESSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (L) is welcomed by French President Emmanuel Macron as he arrives for bilateral talks at the Elysee Palace in Paris on November 10, 2018 on the sidelines of commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the 11 November 1918 armistice, ending World War I. (Photo by ludovic MARIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (L) speaks with French president Emmanuel Macron prior to their meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on November 10, 2018, on the sidelines of commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the 11 November 1918 armistice, ending World War I. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (L) is welcomed by French President Emmanuel Macron as he arrives for bilateral talks at the Elysee Palace in Paris on November 10, 2018 on the sidelines of commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the 11 November 1918 armistice, ending World War I. (Photo by ludovic MARIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (L) is welcomed by French President Emmanuel Macron as he arrives for bilateral talks at the Elysee Palace in Paris on November 10, 2018 on the sidelines of commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the 11 November 1918 armistice, ending World War I. (Photo by ludovic MARIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (R) gives a thumbs up next to French President Emmanuel Macron as he arrives for bilateral talks at the Elysee Palace in Paris on November 10, 2018 on the sidelines of commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the 11 November 1918 armistice, ending World War I. (Photo by ludovic MARIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images)
French President Emmanuel Macron (L) gives a thumbs up as US President Donald Trump (R) arrives for bilateral talks at the Elysee Palace in Paris on November 10, 2018 on the sidelines of commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the 11 November 1918 armistice, ending World War I. (Photo by ludovic MARIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images)
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