Macron hits back after earlier in the day Trump took his NATO "brain death" comments to task saying they were "very nasty" remarks, and the French president also took a swipe at Turkey, saying "technically it is not possible" to purchase the S-400 anti-air defense system from the Russians and be a NATO member.
Sitting next to Trump and fielding questions from reporters outlining their respective views of the state of the NATO alliance, it was clear the recent 'bromance' is no longer going strong.
Trump actually laughed when Macron raised the heart of the Turkey issue, saying Erdogan can’t integrate Russian S-400 defense into NATO systems without deeply compromising the alliance. Macron questioned:
How is it possible to be a member of the alliance - to work with our office, to buy our materials, to be integrated - and to buy the S-400 from Russia? Technically it is not possible...
An incredulous Macron on Turkey: "How is it possible to be a member of the alliance..and to buy the S-400 from the Russians?"— Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) December 3, 2019
"Technically, it is not possible." pic.twitter.com/fbX4Pqo33b
The two sparred over the question of what to do with western and European foreign fighters leaving the battlefield in Syria.
Macron said to Trump, who in the past has claimed 100% defeat of ISIS: "The number one priority, because it's not yet finished, is to get rid of ISIS...It's not yet done. I'm sorry to say that."
Wow. Macron calls for end of ambiguity with #Turkey regarding #ISIS fighters and “some of these groups.”— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) December 3, 2019
Macron also questions Trump on how Turkey can buy #Russia S-400 and be in NATO. Trump laughs. Body gestures here tell a lot: pic.twitter.com/5LTufZKLkR
“Would you like some nice ISIS fighters?” Trump asked. “I could give them to you, you could take every one you want.”
“Let’s be serious,” Macron responded.
Macron then took Turkey to task for now being on the wrong side of counterterror efforts in Syria:
“They now are fighting against those who fight with us, who fought with us, shoulder to shoulder, against ISIS,” Macron said of Turkey.
French President Emmanuel Macron says #NATO needs to talk about more than how much its members are paying, specifically Turkey's military incursion in northern Syria. "When I look at Turkey, they are now fighting against those who fought with us against #ISIS." pic.twitter.com/Qok3nFtDNU— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) December 3, 2019
As Bloomberg summarized of the testy exchange:
Trump, who effectively green-lit Turkey’s Syria incursion by withdrawing U.S. forces from a region on Turkey’s border, again blamed his predecessor Barack Obama for pushing Erdogan toward Moscow by allegedly refusing to sell Ankara the U.S. Patriot missile system.
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With his allies up in arms over his latest tariff threats directed at France, President Trump landed in London early Tuesday, accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump, for a two-day summit marking the 70th anniversary of the military alliance's birth. Trump is notorious for blaming America's NATO partners for not paying their fair share when it comes to financing the military alliance.
Sitting alongside NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg at Winfield House in London, Trump delivered a rambling address that marked the beginning of the summit, bragging about his progress with China, and claiming that the US is doing 'very well' when it comes to the still-unsigned 'Phase One' trade agreement.
There was talk of arms control progress, with Trump insisting that "Russia wants to do something badly and so do we."
During previous administrations, summits like this one would have been a snoozefest. But President Trump has spiced up several NATO summits by starting drama with one or more of his fellow Nato leaders.
Justin Trudeau and Angela Merkel have been favorite targets of his in the past; but Trump is focusing his ire on French President Emmanuel Macron.
The problem is that Macron apparently told The Economist Magazine that Nato was experiencing "brain death," and warned that members of the alliance could no longer rely on the US.
Unsurprisingly, Trump took umbrage at this, and dedicated a few minutes of his opening press conference to trashing Macron, accusing him of being "very, very nasty" and that it was "very insulting" for the French president to label Nato "brain dead."
Watch a clip of Trump's remarks below:
"I think that's very insulting."— CNN International (@cnni) December 3, 2019
US President Donald Trump condemns French President Emmanuel Macron's "nasty" statement about NATO being "brain dead" https://t.co/8TwTVsCrHA pic.twitter.com/AX0h24B84J
Trump added that relations between the US and European Nato members were not causing any divide, except with France. He could even envision France 'breaking' away from the military alliance.
"I do see France breaking off. I’m looking at him and I’m saying he [Macron] needs protection more than anybody and I see him breaking off, so I’m a little surprised at that," Trump said.
Returning to the tariffs once more, Trump slammed France for trying to raise money via a "digital tax" levy on US tech giants like Facebook and Google.
"They are starting to tax other people’s products, so we are going to tax them," Trump said
He also took a swipe a France's economy, with its high unemployment rate, claiming that the country was “not doing well economically at all." There's some truth to that: The Q3 unemployment rate climbed o 8.6%.
Of course, some of the most scathing criticism of Nato has come from President Trump, with the president repeatedly declaring the alliance obsolete.
The president also made some comments about the possibility of delaying notifications.