Trump, Macron try to ease tensions for WWI anniversary

Aaron Brown
November 11, 2018

'Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which the USA subsidizes greatly!' Trump responded.

US President Donald Trump and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron held talks on Saturday after a public spat over the French leader's suggestion that Europe should rely less on the US for its security.

Macron spoke of the need "to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States", in the context of cybersecurity.

The US President is in France to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

On Sunday, Trump is scheduled to visit a cemetery in the Paris suburb of Suresnes.

Both leaders agreed "something very serious happened - that this assassination was serious and unacceptable", the French presidential spokesman said.

"The aim of the forum is to show that there are lots of forces in the worldwide system-states, NGOs, Foundations, intellectuals, companies-who believe we need a world of rules, an open world and a multilateral world", he said.

Besides European security, the presidents also discussed the USA decision to pull out of an arms control treaty with Russia, Iran, the slaying of a Saudi journalist inside the Saudi Consulate in Turkey and Saudi Arabia's role in the war in Yemen, according to French officials who briefed journalists afterward.

After his meeting with Macron, Trump had been scheduled to head to the battlefield of Belleau Wood, 90 kilometers (55 miles) northeast of the capital, where US troops had their breakthrough battle by stopping a German push for Paris shortly after entering the war in 1917. "France and the USA have been side by side", another French official said, evoking World War I battlefields where US and French soldiers fought on the same side and the nations' joint operation against Syria earlier this year.

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Trump has made similar arguments, particularly in urging NATO's European members to increase its share of defense spending.

Trump's tweet was especially wounding to Macron, one of the strongest USA allies in Europe.

"Unlike Trump, a little rain never stopped President Obama from honoring our fallen war heroes on Veterans Day", former Pentagon official Adam Blickstein tweeted along with a picture of Obama carrying a wreath at a rain-soaked remembrance ceremony. Macron and Merkel unveiled a commemorative plaque where the Armistice was signed, ending the war.

On Friday, the French President renewed his call on the EU to build a European Army and increase its shared military capability.

The cancellation of Saturday's visit drew criticism from those who say the president should have found a way to travel to Aisne-Marne regardless of the weather.

However, Trump canceled his visit because of bad weather.

Later in the day, on meeting Macron, he assured that the United States would "help" with European defense but repeated his insistence that nations on the continent pay their fair share. He called Trump "my good friend" - and reached out to pat the American president on the thigh after a reporter asked them about the tweet. "Whichever way we can do it the best and most efficient will be something that we both want".

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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