European countries should contribute more money towards NATO rather than ponder the “very insulting” prospect of a pan-European armed force, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Twitter on Friday.
Trump’s tweet, issued shortly after he arrived in the French capital Paris, comes days after French President Emmanuel Macron suggested that Europe should create its own army to protect itself from potential enemies including Russia, China — and the United States.
“Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the U.S. subsidizes greatly!” tweeted Trump, who is scheduled to meet Macron for bilateral talks on Saturday.
On Tuesday, Macron took to French radio to express the need for Europe to reduce its reliance on an increasingly isolationist U.S. for defence.
“We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America,” Macron said.
“We won’t protect Europeans if we don’t decide to have a real European army,” he added.
“Faced with Russia, which is near our borders and has shown it could be threatening – I want to build a real security dialog with Russia, which is a country I respect, a European country – but we must have a Europe that can defend itself on its own without relying only on the United States.”
Macron’s comments came amid the launch of the European Intervention Initiative, a coalition of European militaries that supporters say would not conflict with the largely U.S.-dominated NATO alliance.
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NATO funding has long been a gripe of Trump’s, who said on the 2016 presidential campaign trail that he would consider disbanding the 70-year-old alliance.
As president, Trump has repeatedly chastised NATO members for failing to spend more on defence, and has suggested that the U.S. was growing disinterested in “paying for Europe’s protection” any longer.
However, on other occasions, Trump has said that the U.S. remains committed to NATO despite concerns over its funding.
— With files from Reuters