Trump, Macron agree on European defense after European army spat

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 U.S. military might. Trump lumped the two topics together and tweeted as Air Force One landed in Paris on Friday night that it was "insulting" Macron wanted an army to defend Europe from the U.S.

"We will not protect the Europeans unless we decide to have a true European army", Macron said, adding that the "main victim" of the United States exit would be Europe and its security.

Fearful of waning USA commitment, Macron hinted at a new path forward for Europe during a radio interview this week in which he touted the "project of a sovereign Europe" and argued that the continent would not be protected "if we don't decide to have a true European army".

British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron visit the World War I French-British memorial of Thiepval, France Friday.

On Sunday, Trump may also chat briefly with Russian President Vladimir Putin when both are among the 70 world leaders set to gather at the Arc de Triomphe.

"We have become very good friends over the last couple of years", he said.

Trump's talks with Macron at the Elysee are likely to cover European concerns about Trump's plans to withdraw the United States from the 1980s Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Agreement and USA renewal of sanctions against Iran.

Yet Trump will depart shortly after visiting a memorial site marking the sacrifice of USA military troops, leaving town just as Macron's Paris Peace Forum gets underway, a meeting aimed at galvanizing multilateral co-operation on shared challenges, including climate change.

After his meeting with Macron, Trump had been scheduled to head to the battlefield of Belleau Wood, 90 kilometers (55 miles) northeast of the capital, where US troops had their breakthrough battle by stopping a German push for Paris shortly after entering the war in 1917.

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The American flag flies at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery dedicated to the US soldiers killed in the Belleau Wood battle during World War One at Belleau, France, November 10, 2018.

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, puts his hands on US President Donald Trump's knee before their talks at the Elysee Palace in Paris.

While Trump complains periodically that allies such as North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries, Japan, South Korea under the American defense umbrella do not pony up enough protection money, there is little realization among Trumpists that the USA has benefited enormously from the peace dividend that comes with American subsidy and protection.

Their meeting got off to a testy start.

Even as he embarked on two days of observances for the November 11, 1918 armistice, President Donald Trump said the United States now bears far too much of the burden to defend the West.

Whatever the reason, the cancelation comes on the heels of an uncomfortable moment for the president as he met with French President Macron.

"We want to make these commemorations a time to reflect on the present, not just the past, so that they have a meaning for us today", an aide to Macron said earlier this week.

Donald Trump has come under fire for cancelling a visit to a cemetery in France due to rain.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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