Trump calls French President Macron's idea for a European army 'very insulting'

Trump calls French President Macron's idea for a European army 'very insulting'

Trump calls French President Macron's idea for a European army 'very insulting'

Trump was slated on Saturday to visit Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near the village of Belleau, France.

The battle of Belleau Wood proved America's mettle to allies and foes alike, and by the time the war ended US forces were at least an equal to any of the other major armies, which were exhausted and depleted. More than 1,800 Americans died there.

A United States delegation led by Chief of Staff General John Kelly and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joe Dunford will visit the cemetery instead, the White House has said.

European leaders have perceived Trump's demands for billions of additional dollars in defense spending from them as a threat for the United States to pull out of the almost 70-year-old alliance.

Macron agreed. "I do share President Trump's views that we need a much better burden-sharing with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and that's why I do believe that my proposal for a European defense" is "utterly consistent with that".

"You know what my attitude's been, and we want a strong Europe".

Trump, who has pursued "America First" policies since taking over the presidency in January 2017, declared himself a "nationalist" during the run-up to the congressional elections, a term likely to raise concerns in Europe.

Their meeting Saturday, however, included declarations of friendship but lacked their previous over-the-top displays of warmth.

The fresh dispute between the two leaders, who have had a hot and cold relationship, threatens to cast a pall on Sunday's ceremony.

"We won't protect Europeans if we don't decide to have a real European army", he added. Political and defense analysts question whether European countries have the will, money or military materiel to replace the raw power of the United States. He went on to group the USA with the countries from which France needed protecting.

Not on Mr. Trump's schedule, despite earlier discussions about the possibility, was an extended meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron headed towards a potential clash in talks on Saturday after Trump took offence at what he called a "very insulting" comment from Macron about the need to create a European army.

Macron's office says Trump misunderstood the remarks. By custom, the official was not authorised to be publicly named.

Macron will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the site, in a visit symbolising the close ties between two countries that fought three wars between 1870 and 1945. The centennial is Sunday. "Is there anything better to celebrate than the end of a war, in particular that one, which was one of the bloodiest and worst of all time?", he tweeted.

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