Europe

'Very nasty': Donald Trump lashes out at Emmanuel Macron's NATO comments

US President Donald Trump has taken aim at France's Emmanuel Macron for his "very nasty" comments on NATO. Source: AP

US President Donald Trump has urged his European allies to "shape up" and criticised his French counterpart for "harsh" comments ahead of a NATO anniversary.

US President Donald Trump has slated his European allies ahead of a NATO anniversary summit, singling out France's Emmanuel Macron for "very nasty" comments on the health of the alliance and Germany for spending too little on defence.

Underlining the strife in the transatlantic bloc, Mr Trump demanded that Europe pay more for its collective defence and also make concessions to US interests on trade.

The attack echoed a tirade by Mr Trump ahead of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's last summit in July 2018.

It will add to the growing doubts over the future of the 29-member alliance, described last month by Mr Macron as "brain dead" in the run-up to a London meeting intended to be a 70th anniversary celebration.

"It's a tough statement, though, when you make a statement like that, that is a very, very nasty statement to essentially 28, including them, 28 countries," Mr Trump told reporters as he met the head of NATO in London on Tuesday.

US President Donald Trump listens as French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a meeting at Winfield House during the NATO summit
US President Donald Trump listens as French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a meeting at Winfield House during the NATO summit
AP

In an interview with the Economist last month, Mr Macron made headlines by faulting NATO for failing to update its strategy to respond to newer threats such as instability in Syria.

Mr Macron, speaking alongside Mr Trump on Tuesday, stood by his comments and said NATO needed to be clear about its core purposes.

In a swipe against NATO member Turkey, which he accused of working with Islamic State proxies, Mr Macron said the alliance could not even agree on the definition of terrorism.

The leaders of Canada and the Netherlands added their support on Tuesday to a Franco-German proposal to reform NATO.

 

"I don't think you survive 70 years as an alliance without regularly reflecting," Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a forum before the summit, sitting alongside his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte.

Mr Trump explicitly linked his complaint that Europe does not pay enough for NATO's security missions to his "America First" defence of US commercial interests, saying it was time for Europe to "shape up" on both fronts.

"It's not right to be taken advantage of on NATO and also then to be taken advantage of on trade, and that's what happens. We can't let that happen," he said of transatlantic disputes over everything from the aerospace sector to a European "digital tax" on US technology giants.

Dismissing signals from Germany that it would do more to hit a NATO target of spending two per cent of national output on defence, Mr Trump accused it and other nations of being "delinquent".

US President Donald Trump at Winfield House in London on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019
US President Donald Trump at Winfield House in London on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019
AP
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who shared omelette and sausages with Mr Trump over breakfast, tweeted that the pre-summit talks had got off to an "excellent start".

But the US leader's broadside came only hours after splits opened up elsewhere in the alliance, with Turkey threatening to block a plan to defend Baltic states and Poland against Russian attacks unless the alliance backs Ankara in recognising the Kurdish YPG militia as a terrorist group.

The YPG's fighters have long been US allies on the ground against IS in Syria. Turkey considers them an enemy because of links to Kurdish insurgents in southeastern Turkey.

Mr Erdogan has already strained alliance ties with a move to buy Russian air defence systems.

Mr Trump told reporters in London he was looking at imposing sanctions on Ankara over the issue.

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