Vice President embarks on three-day visit to France
Vice President embarks on three-day visit to France
Image source Flickr
10 November, 2018, 08:42
US President Donald Trump on Friday (Nov 9) blasted calls by Emmanuel Macron for a European army to defend against threats from powers including the US as "very insulting", setting a combative tone for his World War 1-themed visit to Paris.
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation funding has always been a gripe of Trump's, who said on the 2016 presidential campaign trail that he would consider disbanding the 70-year-old alliance.
In the touchdown tweet, Trump suggested Europe first pay "its fair share" of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation before contemplating a Europe-wide force.
Macron called Tuesday for a "real European army" to better defend itself "against Russian Federation and even the United States", Agence France Presse reported.
On Saturday morning, Macron and Trump will hold bilateral talks on issues expected to include Syria and Iran before lunching with Melania and Macron's wife Brigitte. Since the beginning of his term, Trump has been urging US NATO allies in Europe to up their defense spending.
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The president, joined by his wife Melania and high-ranking United States officials, arrived late on Friday aboard Air Force One for a visit that he called "very special" and one that he "looked forward to".
"I've seen what they have planned, and I think it's going to be something very, very special".
At the same time, Macron has increasingly been positioning himself as a bulwark against the rising tide of Trump-style populism across Europe, speaking out loudly against the dangers of nationalism and isolationist retreat.
The White House and the Kremlin had previously considered a formal meeting in Paris. Early this year, Trump had hosted Macron on the first State Dinner of his Administration.
Trump launched a broadside at Macron via his preferred medium of conducting foreign policy - Twitter.
Earlier this week, Emmanuel Macron voiced plans to build a single European army to boost the EU's defence capability as well as military independence from the United States.
"He's starting to become the antithesis of President Trump's public messaging", said Heather Conley, director of the Europe programme at Center for Strategic and International Studies. That now seems more likely for later this month, when they attend the G20 summit of worldwide leaders in Argentina.
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