July 12, 2018 / 11:35 AM / in 8 months

Macron says NATO debates were 'frank and respectful'

France's President Emmanuel Macron and U.S. President Donald Trump talk at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium July 11, 2018. Tatyana Zenkovich/Pool via REUTERS

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday that talks at a NATO summit were measured and respectful, despite critical tweets from U.S. President Donald Trump in the run up to and during the gathering.

Ahead of the summit, Trump criticized Germany on Twitter for what he called its dependence on Russian energy, and during the event he hit out on Twitter at NATO members’ spending contributions to the defense alliance.

“I read the 140-character messages,” Macron said. “The debates took a different tone. They were frank but there was no finger-pointing or lack of respect.”

Macron said he did not believe it was necessarily a good idea to raise the target for NATO members’ defense spending to 4 percent of GDP from 2 percent, as Trump has suggested.

The French leader said that Trump had not threatened to pull out of the 70-year-old alliance over the defense spending commitments of Washington’s European allies, contrary to some media reports.

“At no point did President Trump, neither in bilateral meetings nor in multilateral ones, say he would pull out of NATO,” Macron said. Pushed a second time, he said: “No, at least not when I was there. He didn’t say that to me.”

“Everyone agreed to raise spending, in line with commitments made in 2014,” Macron added. “I think NATO has emerged from these last few days much stronger.”

Reporting by Michel Rose and Richard Lough; Writing by Luke Baker; Editing by Richard Lough

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