Macron placates Trump after EU army row
US president attacks ‘insulting’ plan for an EU army ahead of Armistice commemorations
in Paris and in Washington
EMMANUEL MACRON sought to defuse a row with Donald Trump yesterday after the US president’s barbed criticisms over the formation of an EU army threatened to overshadow First World War commemorations.
As Mr Trump landed in Paris, he fired off a tweet, saying it was “very insulting” for his French counterpart to suggest that “a true European army” was needed to defend the continent from the consequences of US foreign policy.
“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 subsidises greatly!” Mr Trump tweeted.
Talks at the Elysée Palace appeared to get off to a tense start, with Mr Macron struggling to convince the US president that his proposal to bolster armed forces in Europe was, in fact, in line with Mr Trump’s demands for fairer military alliances.
The build up to today’s centenary of the Armistice was further unsettled when Mr Trump abruptly called off a visit to an American war cemetery near Paris because of rain.
It was intended to be a solemn occasion for the US president to pay tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of American soldiers in the First World War, the day before commemorations of the centenary of the Armistice that brought peace. Instead, the White House caused rancorous criticism from both sides of the Atlantic.
Nicholas Soames, the Conservative MP for Mid Sussex and Winston Churchill’s grandson led the chorus of derision aimed at Mr Trump, after he called off attendance at the event for “scheduling and logistical difficulties caused by the weather”.
Mr Soames said: “They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate Donald Trump couldn’t even defy the weather to pay his re- spects to the Fallen.” Tobias Ellwood MP, a defence minister, tweeted: “Rain was a regular feature on the Western Front. Thankfully it did not prevent our brave heroes from doing their job.”
Kelly Magsamen, a high-ranking Pentagon official in the Obama admin- istration, wrote on Twitter: “Real low energy, Donald Trump, to not bother to honour the sacrifice of American soldiers in WWI due to some rain. Somehow everyone else was able to do so today. Obama never had this problem. He also visited our troops in war zones.” Later, Mr Macron and Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, visited a replica of the train carriage in a forest clearing north of Paris where the Armistice was signed. Mr Macron affectionately took Mrs Merkel’s hand after they signed a guestbook, and she rested her head on his shoulder as they stood in front of a war memorial.
Mr Trump is due to be among more than 70 heads of state and government who will gather at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe today.
Emmanuel Macron, the French president places a conciliatory hand on the knee of Donald Trump at the Elysée Palace