Trump, Macron say Europe needs to ramp up military spending

Paris: The French and US Presidents said on Saturday they agreed that Europe needed to increase its contribution to common defence spending and work towards reinforcing the continent’s military capabilities.

Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump — who spoke with the former in Paris during his trip to attend commemorations of the end of World War I — reached the common position after a bilateral meeting at the Élysée Palace.

Macron told journalists that Europeans needed to share the burden of defence spending, Efe news reported.

Trump had earlier in the day slammed his French counterpart on this issue in one of his characteristic, unorthodox tweets.

“President Macron of France has just suggested that Europe build its own military in order to protect itself from the US, China and Russia,” Trump tweeted.

“Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the US subsidizes greatly!”

However, at the start of their meeting, the pair seemed to gloss over their differences on European military cooperation, saying they were aligned on burden sharing, according to CNN.

“We’re getting along from the standpoint of fairness and I want to be fair. We want to help Europe but it has to be fair,” Trump said.

“Right now, the burden sharing has been largely on the US as the President will say and he understands that. He understands the US can only do so much.”

Macron said his “proposals for European defence were consistent” with Trump’s views.

Trump was also due to mark to centenary of the World War I armistice with visits to burial grounds for some of the 117,000 American military personnel who died in the war.

On Saturday, he will visit the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, near where the Battle of Belleau Wood was fought in 1918. He will deliver remarks from Suresnes American Cemetery on Sunday — Veterans Day in the US.

“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?” the US President tweeted on Saturday morning.

Both the leaders began their relationship as fast friends, extending invitations to each others’ capitals for ceremony-filled visits. But differences on trade, climate change and the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal have soured their ties.