US President Donald Trump on Friday said French President Emmanuel Macron’s suggestion for a joint European army is “very insulting”.
“President Macron of France has just suggested that Europe build its own military in order to protect itself from the US, China and Russia,” the US president tweeted as his plane landed in the French capital.
“Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the US subsidizes greatly!,” Trump said on arriving in Paris for ceremonies to mark the end of World War 1.
Trump, who is visiting France with his wife Melania for the second time since becoming president, was referring to a call made by Macron on Tuesday for a “real European army”.
Macron, an ardent advocate of closer European integration, said a joint European Union military force was needed to wean Europe off American might, not least after US President Donald Trump announced he was pulling out of a Cold War-era nuclear treaty.
“We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States,” he told France’s Europe 1 radio.
He is specifically pushing for the creation of a nine-country European force, independent from NATO, that could rapidly mount a joint military operation, evacuate civilians from a war zone, or provide aid after a natural disaster.
Trump’s reaction is likely to add to strains in transatlantic relations, which will be under the spotlight this weekend as 70 world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, gather in Paris to mark the centenary of the end of World War 1.