United States President Donald Trump and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron met in Paris on Saturday amid tension between the two over Macron’s comments about Europe needing a “true army”, The New York Times reported.
The US president is in Paris to attend an event marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. India’s Vice President Venkaiah Naidu is among the world leaders attending the commemoration.
On Tuesday, Macron – who has said before that Europeans can no longer depend on the United States to defend them – told French radio station Europe 1 that the continent needs to protect itself “with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America”. He made the remarks during a visit to the former western front in Verdun, BBC reported.
Late on Friday, as he arrived in Paris, Trump said Macron’s statement was insulting and suggested Europe should pay its fair share for the upkeep of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which was set up during the Cold War to protect the West from Soviet aggression. He had made the point back in May during an event in Brussels, where memorials highlighting NATO’s role in maintaining peace around the world were unveiled.
At their meeting at the Élysée Palace, Macron aligned himself with Trump’s position. “I do share President Trump’s views that we need much better burden-sharing within NATO, and that is why I do believe my proposals for European defence are utterly consistent with that,” he said. Macron called Trump “my good friend” and said “great solidarity” exists between the two nations. He said he would discuss a number of matters with Trump during their one-on-one meeting, including Iran, Syria, Yemen, trade and climate change.
Trump said he appreciates Macron’s position on burden sharing for Europe’s defence. “We want to help Europe, but it has to be fair...we want to absolutely be there, we want to help, we want to be a part of it, but different countries have to help,” The Washington Post quoted him as saying.