French President Emmanuel Macron attempted to defuse a row with visiting US counterpart Donald Trump on Saturday, hailing the “great solidarity” between their countries after Trump blasted his proposals for a European army.
The two leaders held talks at the presidential palace in Paris ahead of World War 1 commemorations taking place in the shadow of a new nationalist surge worldwide.
Their body language was markedly less warm than during Trump’s last visit to Paris in July 2017, underscoring a general cooling in relations which were further strained by a late-night tweet by Trump attacking Macron.
Appearing anxious to appease Trump, who has accused the EU of failing to pull its weight on NATO spending, Macron said he shared his view that “we need a much better burden-sharing within NATO”.
His calls for closer European integration on defence would mean “more Europe in NATO”, he argued, later patting Trump’s knee affectionately.
Trump, who appeared more aloof, described himself and Macron as “very good friends” and said he “appreciated” the remarks about burden sharing.
“We want a strong Europe. It’s very important to us to have a strong Europe,” he said.