Did Trump pull out of bat­tle­field trib­ute over Macron EU army jibe?

...or was he just fed up with French Pres­i­dent’s touchy-feely di­plo­macy!

The Mail on Sunday - - NEWS - By Nick Craven

PRES­I­DENT Don­ald Tr u mp snubbed a key part of the Ar­mistice com­mem­o­ra­tions yes­ter­day by scrap­ping a planned visit to an Amer­i­can First World War ceme­tery in France.

The White House’s ex­cuse that the trip was called off be­cause of rain was met with wide­spread scorn, es­pe­cially af­ter a very pub­lic spat with French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron seemed to have soured Mr Trump’s mood.

Al­though low cloud ap­par­ently pre­vented the Pres­i­dent’s Ma­rine One he­li­copter from fly­ing the 55 miles from Paris to Bel­leau Wood and the Aisne-Marne Amer­i­can Ceme­tery and Me­mo­rial, crit­ics won­dered why the jour­ney couldn’t have been made by road.

Mr Trump’s no-show fol­lowed a row with Mr Macron over France’s con­tri­bu­tion to Nato. The French leader said the EU needed a joint army now the US was pulling out of a dis­ar­ma­ment treaty with Rus­sia.

‘We have to pro­tect our­selves with re­spect to China, Rus­sia and even the United States of Amer­ica,’ he said. A fu­ri­ous Mr Trump tweeted in re­sponse: ‘Very in­sult­ing.’

The Bat­tle of Bel­leau Wood in June 1918 was a piv­otal vic­tory, largely cred­ited to US Marines who de­feated a huge Ger­man force. More than 1,800 Amer­i­cans were killed. In to­tal, 8,100 sol­diers died in the month-long bat­tle.

Po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor David Frum, a for­mer speech­writer for George W. Bush, con­trasted the sac­ri­fices made by the 116,000 US troops who died in the war to Mr Trump’s lack of re­solve.

He tweeted: ‘None of this is sur­pris­ing. Doesn’t make it any less dis­may­ing. These troops fought vic­to­ri­ously along­side al­lies with whom the US still stands to­day. It’s worth a few miles in a limo, a few words from un­der a tarp.’

Ben Rhodes, a for­mer se­nior staffer to Barack Obama, tweeted: ‘ I helped plan all of Pres­i­dent Obama’s trips for eight years. There is al­ways a rain op­tion. Al­ways. Trump will use the US mil­i­tary for a pre- elec­tion po­lit­i­cal stunt but sits in his ho­tel in­stead of hon­or­ing those who fought and died for Amer­ica.’

Mr Trump’s Chief of Staff, Gen­eral John Kelly, and Chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen­eral Joe Dun­ford, made the hour-long jour­ney by road from Paris.

Mr Trump’s can­cel­la­tion came

‘He sits in a ho­tel rather than hon­our the dead’

af­ter a day of ten­sion be­tween the US and French lead­ers.

In re­sponse to Mr Macron’s sug­ges­tion that the EU should have its own army, Mr Trump tweeted on Fri­day night: ‘Pres­i­dent Macron of France has just sug­gested that Eu­rope build its own mil­i­tary in or­der to pro­tect it­self from the US, China and Rus­sia. Very in­sult­ing, but per­haps Eu­rope should first pay its fair share of Nato, which the US sub­si­dizes greatly!’

The frosty re­la­tion­ship took a turn for the worse on Satur­day morn­ing dur­ing talks at El­y­see Palace in Paris as Mr Macron awk­wardly reached out to pat Mr Trump’s leg. In marked con­trast with the pair’s power-grip hand­shakes and back slaps at pre­vi­ous meet­ings, a stony-faced Mr Trump ap­peared unim­pressed. Later, he of­fered a be­grudg­ing thumbs-up while the tac­tile French pres­i­dent pawed at his arm.

As they pre­pared to meet for din- ner last night, Mr Macron tried to smooth over the row, say­ing: ‘We need a much bet­ter bur­den shar­ing within Nato. When Pres­i­dent Trump has to pro­tect one of the states of the United States he doesn’t ask France or Ger­many or an­other coun­try to fi­nance. That’s why I do be­lieve that we need more in­vest­ments.’

TOUCHY: Pres­i­dent Macron tries to ease the ten­sion by reach­ing out to pat Mr Trump’s thigh, but the US leader looks dis­tinctly unim­pressed by the ges­ture

FEELY: Mr Macron moves down to Mr Trump’s knee, but still gets no re­sponse

ARM-ISTICE: A re­luc­tant thumbs up as Mr Macron aims higher

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