French President Emmanuel Macron postponed a long-planned state visit to Germany on Saturday to deal with worsening turmoil in France, a clear sign of the severity of the violent protests gripping the country.
The killing of a 17-year-old of North African descent by a police officer on Tuesday has plunged France into chaos, sparking violent demonstrations in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, where the teenager was killed. The violence spread to other major cities.
According to the latest estimates from the French Interior Ministry, up to 1,300 rioters were arrested in the night between Friday and Saturday.
The Elysée confirmed that Macron and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke on the phone on Saturday, agreeing to postpone the high-level visit. « Given the internal situation, the president has indicated that he wishes to be able to stay in France for the next few days, » reads a note.
« The two presidents therefore agreed to postpone the visit to Germany to a later date, » he added.
No new dates for the visit appear to have been launched yet.
The state visit, scheduled for July 2-4, was intended to strengthen Franco-German relations and get leaders to discuss burning issues ranging from energy policy to China. It would also have marked the first time a French president has paid a state visit to Germany since Jacques Chirac visited Berlin in 2000.
Escalating clashes between rioters and police had already forced Macron to speed up his departure from the European Council meeting in Brussels on Friday.