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Macron snubs USA arms in defence spat with Trump

Macron snubs USA arms in defence spat with Trump

Trump, who appeared more aloof, described himself and Macron as "very good friends" and said he "appreciated" the remarks about burden sharing.

The French president also raised Trump's plan to withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which the US says Russian Federation has violated.

In a French radio interview on Tuesday, Macron had referred to Trump´s plans to pull the U.S. 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.

"I'm delighted by this very innovative experimental approach", French President Emmanuel Macron told the annual Internet Governance Forum in Paris on Monday.

"We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States", he said after listing various threats including cyberattacks.

Trump has made similar arguments, particularly in urging NATO's European members to increase its share of defence spending.

One of dozens of world leaders attending World War I commemorations in France this weekend, Trump tweeted after landing in Paris that Macron's call for a "real European army" was "insulting".

The tense exchange with Trump is just the latest challenge for Macron, who was seen as a bulwark against rising European nationalism when he was elected a year ago.

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"I do defend my people, I do defend my country, I do believe we have a strong identity", Macron said.

Macron's comments on stronger European defense cooperation were not meant to add to the points of contention, and his stance is not new.

Macron has warned that if the treaty is scrapped and Russian Federation resumes building the kind of missiles it banned, the weapons could easily reach European targets - but not the U.S. The French official suggested that Trump had conflated two separate issues, that of the USA withdrawal from the INF treaty and the resulting threat to European security, and the need to create an autonomous military force in Europe.

Macron made the announcement Tuesday during an interview with Europe 1 radio.

On Saturday evening the United States leader was to join Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan and almost 70 other world leaders at a dinner at the Orsay Museum ahead of Sunday's solemn commemorations at the Arc de Triomphe under which lies the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

In addition to his meetings with Macron, Trump had been scheduled to visit the Belleau Wood battlefield and American cemetery on Saturday, but the trip was canceled as the rain prevented the planned helicopter excursion.

Earlier he visited a cemetery in Suresnes in western Paris, saying he had gone there "to pay tribute to fearless Americans" who died in the war. The president had been expected to meet with Putin during the visit, but will instead sit down with him formally later this month at a world leaders' summit in Buenos Aires.