November 9, 2018 / 9:28 PM / 11 days ago

Trump, arriving in Paris, lashes out at Macron over defense remarks

PARIS (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump lashed out at French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday, saying it was “very insulting” for him to suggest Europe should create its own army to protect itself from potential adversaries.

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump exit Air Force One as they arrive at Orly Airport near Paris to attend commemoration ceremonies for Armistice Day, 100 years after the end of the First World War, France, November 9, 2018. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Arriving in Paris for a World War One Armistice Day centenary celebration, Trump fired off a note on Twitter saying Macron had 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,” Trump added, returning to his repeated demand that European nations do more to help fund the Western alliance.

Macron said on French radio on Tuesday that Europe needed a real army to reduce reliance on the United States for defense in the face of a resurgent Russia.

“We won’t protect Europeans if we don’t decide to have a real European army,” Macron said.

“Faced with Russia, which is near our borders and has shown it could be threatening - I want to build a real security dialogue with Russia, which is a country I respect, a European country - but we must have a Europe that can defend itself on its own without relying only on the United States,” he added.

The European Commission executive later echoed Macron’s call for a European military capability. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is a long-time supporter of the idea the European Union should have more common defense capability.

The Commission’s chief spokesman, Margaritis Schinas, said the EU was working to collaborate on defense procurement and research as well as developing EU military peacekeeping capabilities.

“I don’t think that this defense identity will start with an EU army,” Schinas said on Tuesday.

“At some point in time, probably down at the end of this process, we may see something that people already describe as an EU army or an EU pooling of resources to make this EU defense identity more visible and more meaningful,” Schinas said.

Reporting by Steve Holland; Writing by Tim Ahmann and David Alexander; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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