President Donald Trump traveled to France on Friday where he almost immediately sparred with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron over European defense.
“President Macron of France has just suggested that Europe build its own military in order to protect itself from the U.S., China and Russia. Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the U.S. subsidizes greatly,” President Trump tweeted soon after landing in Paris, referring to Macron’s previous comments made on Europe 1 radio when he called for a “real European army” within the European Union.
“We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America,” Macron said Tuesday, adding that since Trump took office, the U.S. has been regarded less of an ally.
“When I see President Trump announcing that he’s quitting a major disarmament treaty which was formed after the 1980s euro-missile crisis that hit Europe, who is the main victim? Europe and its security,” the French president added, reiterating a position he has held for some time.
However, according to a senior French official, Macron’s words were taken “out of context” by the U.S. president. Macron, he said, didn’t want a European army, but rather a better coordination and funding of Europe’s already-existing resources.
What the French president was trying to convey is that Europe should organize better to protect itself. “Not a European army. He did not mean Europe should form an army. And this is all complementary to NATO, not separate from it,” the official noted.
The President and the First Lady will spend the weekend in Paris to commemorate the centennial of the end of World War I. His tweet, which came only twenty minutes after arriving in the country, is seen by some as a sign of what the next high-level international meeting may look like – a summit in which President Trump again distances himself from traditional American allies.