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Macron's European army proposal 'very insulting', says Trump on arriving in France

Carlos Barria, REUTERS | US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive at Orly Airport near Paris.

US President Donald Trump said on Friday it was "very insulting" for French President Emmanuel Macron to suggest Europe should create its own army to protect itself from potential enemies, including the United States.

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"President Macron of France has just suggested that Europe build its own military in order to protect itself from the US, China and Russia," the US president tweeted as soon as he arrived in France to meet with Macron to mark the centenary of the end of World War 1.

"Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the US subsidises greatly," Trump added.

On Tuesday, Macron said Europe needed a real army to reduce reliance on the United States for defense. "We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America," Macron said on French radio, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Macron, an ardent advocate of closer European integration, said a joint European Union military force was needed to wean Europe off American might, not least after US President Donald Trump announced he was pulling out of a Cold War-era nuclear treaty.

Trump, who is visiting France with his wife Melania for the second time since becoming president, was referring to a call made by Macron on Tuesday.

"We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States," he told France's Europe 1 radio.

He is specifically pushing for the creation of a nine-country European force, independent from NATO, that could rapidly mount a joint military operation, evacuate civilians from a war zone, or provide aid after a natural disaster.

Trump's reaction is likely to add to strains in transatlantic relations, which will be under the spotlight this weekend as 70 world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russia's Vladimir Putin, gather in Paris to mark the centenary.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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