Armistice Day: Trump-Macron smooth over defence spat

Armistice Day: Trump-Macron smooth over defence spat

Kerry Wise
November 11, 2018

The tensions between Macron and Trump were triggered earlier this week when the French president referred to Trump's plans to pull Washington out of a Cold War-era nuclear treaty and said a joint European Union force was needed to end Europe's reliance on USA military might. "Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which the USA subsidizes greatly!" he said in a tweet.

Macron, during a visit to the World War I Western Front at Verdun, told Europe 1 radio that in face of a revived threat from Moscow that Europe needed to "defend itself better alone" and Europeans can not protect themselves without a "true European army".

French President Emmanuel Macron's office says President Donald Trump is confused by French President Emmanuel Macron's drive for Europe to create its own army.

In another snarky tweet, Trump minion SeNator Lindsey Graham said he would "like to remind President Macron that throughout his attractive country there are thousands of graves filled with American soldiers who gave their lives to help liberate France - not conquer France".

Trump's tweet just after landing in Paris that was highly critical of Macron is expected to strain the US-French relationship.

"In front of Russian Federation which is at our borders and which can be threatening, I would like to start a security dialogue with Russian Federation, which is a country I respect and which is European", Macron said in the interview, conducted during his tour of the main battlegrounds of World War I in northeastern France.

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

But their personal relationship has failed to make much difference when it comes to stopping Trump from pursuing policies Macron strongly opposes.

Mr Trump's brief visit to Europe comes amid uncertainty about the U.S. relationship with the continent.

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USA secretary of state Mike Pompeo has expressed opposition to using International Monetary Fund money to repay Chinese loans. He would hold talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Saturday after which both the countries would sign several agreements.

The French official suggested that Trump had conflated two separate issues, that of the USA withdrawal from the INF treaty and the resulting threat to European security, and the need to create an autonomous military force in Europe.

One of the French president's closest political allies attacked Trump on Saturday morning. "And we look forward to that", Mr Trump told reporters before leaving the White House.

The WWI commemorations come at a watershed moment for the liberal post-war order, with anti-immigration populists at the helm in the United States and Brazil, sharing power in Italy, and making strong gains in Germany, prompting Merkel to announce she is bowing out in 2021.

French President Emmanuel Macron pays his respects with children at the Ossuary of Douaumont near Verdun, northeastern France, Nov. 6, 2018 during ceremonies marking the centenary of the end of World War I.

David Frum, once a speechwriter for President George W. Bush, tweeted that he thought it was "incredible" that a president would travel to France for a World War I ceremony and not pay respects to the United States servicemen who died in France during World War I.

Trump skipped a planned visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, with a White House statement citing "scheduling and logistical difficulties caused by the weather" for the decision.

On Saturday, Macron and Merkel traveled to Compiegne in northeast France to unveil a plaque in the forest clearing where the World War 1 armistice was signed.

It has been raining in Paris all day and the weather prevented Trump from arriving via helicopter to the site, which is more than 50 miles east of the French capital.

Visiting heads of state will then gather for dinner in Paris in the evening. The ceremony will be at the Arc de Triomphe and will be attended by dozens of world leaders.