It was a private dinner in a Parisian garden on the Boulevard St. Germain, meant to cement the important personal relationship between the leaders of France and Germany.

After the meal on July 4, 2022, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said "Merci beaucoup” in a Twitter post praising "close exchanges.” But on the way out, President Emmanuel Macron muttered to a confidant: "This is not going to be easy.”

It is hardly a secret that the dealings between the two men have been anything but easy. Barely disguised insults between them in recent days have pointed to deeper differences over Ukraine, how to confront and contain an aggressive Russia and how to manage an increasingly polarized United States.