Europe should be “strong” and shoulder a larger share of the NATO defense burden, Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron agreed when they met after the US president slammed the French leader’s idea of a “real European army.”
“We want a strong Europe, it’s very important to us, and whichever way we can do it, the best and more efficient would be something we both want,” Trump told journalists as he met Macron at the Elysee Palace ahead of commemorative events marking the centenary of the end of WWI.
The sudden change of tone came less than a day after the US leader rebuked his French ally for proposing that Europe be made stronger and more independent of Washington by creating a “real European army.” At that time, Trump called such a notion “very insulting,” adding that Europe should first repay Washington for “subsidizing” its defense through NATO.
Trump also reminded Macron of the need for Europe to pay its “fair share of NATO” costs during the meeting. “We want to help Europe but it has to be fair. Right now, the burden sharing has been largely on the United States,” he said.
Macron seemingly agreed with Trump’s demands by saying that he wanted Europe to bear a greater share of the costs within the alliance. However, he also showed that he is not quite ready to give up on the idea that provoked such angry reaction from Trump, as he added that he still believes his “proposals for European defense are totally consistent with” the idea of making Europe stronger.
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The US and French leaders apparently attempted to smooth their differences, according to an Elysee official, who said that the two men had a “very constructive” meeting, while calling an earlier spat between them a “misunderstanding.” Trump also allegedly told Macron during the meeting that he believes the two presidents “are much closer than it seems,” the official added.
Relations between two presidents, once described as a ‘bromance,’ has suffered several blows over the recent years. First, Macron failed to persuade Trump not to withdraw from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal.
The rift between the two then grew as Trump slapped Europe with import tariffs and threatened European businesses with sanctions over their dealings with Tehran.
Most recently, Macron criticized Trump for his plans to withdraw from a 30-year-old arms treaty with Russia banning the possession and development of short- and mid-range missiles. European security will be “the main victim” of such a decision, the French president warned.
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