In Paris, Trump crit­i­cizes Macron

The French leader has sug­gested an EU army to counter Rus­sia, China — and the U.S.

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD - As­so­ci­ated press

PARIS — Pres­i­dent Trump is shift­ing his post­elec­tion fo­cus with a week­end trip to Paris, join­ing an in­ter­na­tional com­mem­o­ra­tion of the 100th an­niver­sary of the ar­mistice that ended World War I. He wasted no time mix­ing it up with his host, tweet­ing as he ar­rived in France that Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron had made an “in­sult­ing” pro­posal to build up Eu­rope’s mil­i­tary to counter the U.S., China and Rus­sia.

Trump ar­rived in France late Fri­day, days af­ter Amer­i­cans de­liv­ered a split ref­er­en­dum on his pres­i­dency in the midterm con­gres­sional elec­tion, keep­ing the Se­nate in his party’s con­trol but ced­ing the House to the Democrats.

He planned to meet with Macron on Sat­ur­day for talks on top­ics ex­pected to in­clude Euro­pean se­cu­rity, Syria and Iran. As he ar­rived, Trump wrote on Twit­ter that Macron “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!”

For Sun­day’s an­niver­sary, Trump was to join world lead­ers at a cer­e­mony in the shadow of the Arc de Tri­om­phe.

“It should be a very beau­ti­ful pe­riod of time, the 100th an­niver­sary of the end­ing of World War I. We have many coun­tries — the lead­er­ship from many coun­tries will be there, es­pe­cially since they heard the United States will be there. And we look for­ward to that,” Trump told re­porters Fri­day be­fore leav­ing the White House. “I’ve seen what they have planned, and I think it’s go­ing to be some­thing very,

very spe­cial.”

Trump orig­i­nally wanted to cel­e­brate Vet­er­ans Day on Sun­day with a grand mil­i­tary pa­rade in Wash­ing­ton, as he was in­spired by the tanks and fly­overs he saw dur­ing France’s Bastille Day cel­e­bra­tion when he vis­ited Paris in July of last year. Trump or­dered the Pen­tagon to come up with plans for a U.S. ver­sion, but they were even­tu­ally scrapped over con­cerns about cost and the dam­age tanks weigh­ing many tons would do to the streets in Wash­ing­ton.

The pres­i­dent and First Lady Me­la­nia Trump were ex­pected to visit sev­eral memo­rial sites in France that are ded­i­cated to Amer­i­can ser­vice mem­bers. Not on Trump’s sched­ule, de­spite ear­lier dis­cus­sions about the pos­si­bil­ity, was an ex­tended meet­ing with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

“I don’t know that we’re see­ing each other in Paris, but we may,” Trump said. “There may be a lunch for the lead­ers.”

The White House and the

Krem­lin had pre­vi­ously con­sid­ered a for­mal meet­ing in Paris. That now seems more likely later this month, when Trump and Putin at­tend the Group of 20 sum­mit of in­ter­na­tional lead­ers in Ar­gentina.

Trump and Putin have met pre­vi­ously on the side­lines of two sum­mits and had their own bi­lat­eral meet­ing in July in Helsinki, Fin­land. At that meet­ing, Trump would not say whether he be­lieved Putin or U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies about their op­po­site con­clu­sions about Rus­sia’s in­ter­fer­ence with the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Trump’s brief visit to Eu­rope comes amid un­cer­tainty about the U.S. re­la­tion­ship with the con­ti­nent. Trump has railed against trade deals with the Euro­pean Union and has crit­i­cized some EU na­tions, in­clud­ing France, for not spend­ing enough on de­fense to sus­tain NATO.

Trump’s na­tional se­cu­rity ad­vi­sor, John Bolton, said Fri­day in Paris that the U.S. was con­cerned about sta­bil­ity in Eu­rope and that

Trump was not shirk­ing from global en­gage­ment. “I think the en­dur­ing les­son (of World War I) for the United States is that when you be­come a global power ... you have global in­ter­ests to pro­tect. Great world lead­ers,” Bolton said, are “driven by na­tional in­ter­ests.”

Trump and Macron’s early re­la­tion­ship was marked by kisses, fre­quent meet­ings and marathon power hand­shakes. But the ef­fort failed to per­suade Trump to re­main in the global cli­mate change agree­ment or Iran nu­clear deal and did noth­ing to pro­tect France from U.S. tar­iffs.

The div­i­dends of Macron’s cul­ti­va­tion of Trump are “mod­est at best,” said Stew­art M. Patrick, a fel­low at the Coun­cil on For­eign Re­la­tions.

At the same time, Macron has in­creas­ingly been po­si­tion­ing him­self as a leader in the re­sis­tance to the ris­ing tide of Trump­style pop­ulism across Eu­rope, speak­ing out loudly against the dan­gers of na­tion­al­ism and iso­la­tion­ist re­treat.

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