Trump, Macron agree on de­fence af­ter spat over EU army pro­posal

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - CORPORATE BUZZ - Reuters let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

PARIS: US Pres­i­dent Donald Trump and France’s Em­manuel Macron agreed on Satur­day on the need for more Euro­pean de­fence spend­ing, pa­per­ing over an ear­lier Trump tweet that had de­scribed Macron’s call for a Euro­pean army as “very in­sult­ing”.

Meet­ing for talks at the El­y­see a day be­fore com­mem­o­ra­tions to mark the 100th an­niver­sary of the end of World War I, Macron wel­comed Trump un­der rainy Parisian skies with a firm hand­shake. But there ap­peared to be less im­me­di­ate warmth in the greet­ing be­tween the two than in the past.

Seated on gilded chairs in the or­nate pres­i­den­tial palace, Macron placed his hand on Trump’s knee and re­ferred to him as “my friend”, while Trump kept more dis­tance, al­though he also talked up com­mon ground on an is­sue that had caused fric­tion.

“We want a strong Europe, it’s very im­por­tant to us, and which­ever way we can do it the best and more ef­fi­cient would be some­thing we both want,” said Trump.

“We want to help Europe but it has to be fair. Right now the bur­den shar­ing has been largely on the United States.”

Macron echoed those sen­ti­ments, say­ing he wanted Europe to bear a greater share of the de­fence costs within NATO, a point he has made re­peat­edly since taking of­fice, along­side his am­bi­tions for Europe to have its own mil­i­tary ca­pa­bil­ity.

“That’s why I do be­lieve my pro­pos­als for Euro­pean de­fence are to­tally con­sis­tent with that,” Macron said in English.

Fresh off US midterm elec­tions that saw the Repub­li­cans’ power eroded, Trump’s visit is aimed at bol­ster­ing the Us-euro­pean al­liance at a sym­bolic time, with the world mark­ing the centenary of the World War I ar­mistice.

But in a tweet prior to land­ing in Paris, Trump took a dim view of com­ments Macron made in a Europe 1 ra­dio in­ter­view this week in which he ap­peared to cast the US as a threat.

Dis­cussing the grow­ing dan­gers from med­dling in elec­toral pro­cesses and the US de­ci­sion to with­draw from a mis­sile treaty, Macron said Europe needed to pro­tect it­self against China, Rus­sia “and even the US”.

AP

US Pres­i­dent Donald Trump and French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron ges­ture dur­ing their meet­ing at the El­y­see Palace in Paris on Satur­day.

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