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Donald Trump hits Emmanuel Macron on tariffs, military spending

President Donald Trump speaks with French President Emmanuel

President Donald Trump speaks with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Saturday, on the sidelines of commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. Credit: AFP / Getty Images / Christophe Petit-Tesson

President Donald Trump took aim Tuesday at President Emmanuel Macron of France over military spending and trade, less than two days after returning from a Veterans Day visit to the ally country.

In tweets Tuesday morning, Trump attacked Macron’s suggestion that Europe become more responsible for its own military defense and called for France to pay more into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Cold War-era defense alliance of North American and European democracies.

“Emmanuel Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the U.S., China and Russia," Trump said. "But it was Germany in World Wars One & Two — How did that work out for France? They were starting to learn German in Paris before the U.S. came along. Pay for NATO or not!”

On the topic of trade, Trump criticized France for making it "very hard for the U.S. to sell its wines" in the country and charging "big Tariffs, whereas the U.S. makes it easy for French wines, and charges very small Tariffs. Not fair, must change!"

The president also criticized Macron for having low approval ratings and for France’s unemployment rate. The two leaders previously had appeared to have had a good relationship.

“The problem is that Emmanuel suffers from a very low Approval Rating in France, 26%, and an unemployment rate of almost 10%. He was just trying to get onto another subject. By the way, there is no country more Nationalist than France, very proud people-and rightfully so!........”

Trump continued: “MAKE FRANCE GREAT AGAIN!”

The president's social media broadside came after he and first lady Melania Trump returned Sunday from a weekend in Paris with more than 100 other world leaders to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

Macron, delivering an address Sunday at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe, denounced nationalism.

“Nationalism is the exact opposite of patriotism,” Macron said. “Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism.”

Trump, at his Make America Great Again rallies, has called himself “a nationalist.” 

Trump faced criticism during the trip when he did not visit a cemetery where American soldiers are buried because of rainy weather conditions. He and the first lady did visit another veterans burial site on Sunday morning, however.  

On Tuesday, Trump addressed the criticism in a tweet, saying: “By the way, when the helicopter couldn’t fly to the first cemetery in France because of almost zero visibility, I suggested driving. Secret Service said NO, too far from airport & big Paris shutdown.”

According to Reuters, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Monday that Trump had isolated himself  during one of the weekend events by deciding not to attend the Paris Peace Forum, which Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin attended.

Asked on television whether the United States was still an ally of France, Le Drian answered yes.

Trump also traveled in a motorcade to the Armistice commemoration while most other world leaders walked to the ceremony Sunday at the Arc de Triomphe.


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