Forget Trump White House, Belgium shows
Melania the surreal
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[May 25, 2017]
By Camille Bottin
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - As her reality TV star
husband meets many of his Western allies for the first time as U.S.
president on Thursday, Melania Trump will be offered a different take on
the surreal by her hosts in Brussels.
The first lady, a Slovenian-born former model, will tour a museum
dedicated to Belgian surrealist painter Rene Magritte in the company of
wives of other national leaders who will be attending a summit of the
NATO military alliance across town.
Famed for works like the 1964 "self-portrait" of a bowler-hatted man
whose face is hidden by an apple or the image of a pipe subtitled "Ceci
n'est pas une pipe" (This is not a Pipe), Magritte has much to teach the
world about questioning outward appearances, and about self-effacement,
Belgian organisers said.
"You never know," museum director Michel Draguet said ahead of the first
lady's visit. "Maybe Donald Trump will move from one kind of surrealism
to another, thanks to Magritte's ideas."
The outspoken 70-year-old wealthy businessman and TV celebrity stunned
many U.S. allies by entering the White House in January. He has broken a
mould among world leaders with a style that offers little evidence of
self-doubt and ideas that run counter to received wisdom among Western
His 47-year-old third wife will be joined by other NATO spouses
including the devoutly Muslim wife of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan;
Brigitte Trogneux, who met Emmanuel Macron when she taught the new
French president in school; and Gauthier Destenay, who is married to
Luxembourg's gay prime minister.
[to top of second column]
First lady Melania Trump
(L) walks with Amelie Derbaudrenghien, partner of Belgian's Prime
Minister Charles Michel, at the Brussels Airport in Brussels,
Belgium, May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Trump's first foreign tour, which has so far taken him to Riyadh,
Jerusalem and Rome and will end this weekend at a G7 summit in
Sicily, has been presented by aides as reassuring allies that
Washington remains a reliable partner under a head of state who
faces a series of ethics questions back home.
For Charles Michel, the 41-year-old Belgian premier whose partner
will show the first ladies around Brussels, an itinerary that also
takes in a storied maker of leather handbags and tea at the palace
with the queen is also a chance to show those close to power a host
country keen to punch above its weight.
(Writing by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)
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