Macron pla­cates Trump af­ter EU army row

US pres­i­dent at­tacks ‘in­sult­ing’ plan for an EU army ahead of Ar­mistice com­mem­o­ra­tions

The Sunday Telegraph - - World News - By David Chazan Allen Nick

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

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