President Trump Hits Out at ‘Nasty’ Emmanuel Macron’s ‘Brain Death’ Comments at NATO Conference

President Trump has kicked off his visit to London for a key NATO conference by raising questions over the wisdom of France’s President Macron saying the alliance was suffering a “brain death”, calling it insulting and pointing that France was suffering problems of its own.

Tuesday’s NATO London conference marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the world’s largest security alliance started with a joint press conference between U.S. President Donald Trump and the Secretary-General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg. The run-up to the meeting has been overshadowed by accelerating moves towards European Union member states establishing their own defence union, and key mover of that drive Emmanuel Macron accusing NATO of suffering from “brain death”.

President Trump responded directly to the criticism Tuesday and opened by name-checking Turkey’s President Erdogan, who has already responded to French President Emmanuel Macron’s comments by saying it was he, not the alliance, that was suffering a “brain death”. The President said Erdogan’s comments were “interesting” and praised the ongoing work of the alliance, remarking: “NATO serves a great purpose. It got to be unfair for the United States because the United States paid a disproportionate amount, and I heard that President Macron said NATO was braindead. I think that’s very insulting to a lot of different forces.”

He continued: “It’s a tough statement when you make a statement like that it is very nasty to 28 countries. They have a very high unemployment rate in France, they are not doing well economically at all. They are starting to tax other people’s products, so we are starting to tax them now… we are doing their wines. It is a tough statement to make when you have such a tough situation in France, look at the yellow vests… they have had a very rough year. You can’t go around making statements like that about NATO, it is very disrespectful. ”

President Trump warned things were going to “get very tough” for Europe if they didn’t shape up on NATO and trade, and insisted “Nobody needs NATO more than France.”

Despite the tough talk on France, President Trump insisted that while he was delivering an America first presidency, he couldn’t blame President Macron for doing the same for his country. The President said: “It’s fine. I’ve always had a good relationship with Emmanuel. But sometimes he’ll say things he shouldn’t say, and sometimes I’ll disagree with his policies with respect to France. But he’s got to do what he’s got to do, but sometimes he does things that are against the interests of France.”

Secretary-General Stoltenberg, who President Trump praised as doing a good job bringing NATO together, said far from suffering brain death, the alliance was going from strength to strength. He told the press pack: “That’s not the case. NATO is active, NATO is agile, NATO is adapting… we are stepping up the fight against terrorism, and for the first time as an alliance we are investigating the security implications of China… NATO is the only place where North America and Europe meet every day to discuss and take actions together, responding to a wide range of different security threats and challenges.

“And we do that more now than we have done for many, many years. That is not least because it has been so clearly conveyed from President Trump that we need fair burden-sharing, our allies are stepping up… there are differences because we are 29 different countries from both sides of the Atlantic… but despite these differences we are able to unite around a core cause because we are stronger together.”

President Trump has made fixing the NATO alliance a key part of his presidency. While his early comments on NATO members not paying their fair share being heavily criticised by the mainstream media and his political opponents as damaging the alliance, the President was quickly proven right, as NATO members upped their defence spending towards the two per cent floor membership requirement.

While Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has praised Trump for encouraging member states to be more involved, he was also praised from a less likely quarter — former UK Prime Minister Theresa May, who hosted the President on his last trip to London as one of the last major official events of her leadership. Sharing a stage with the President in the Foreign Office buildings, the then Prime-Minister said: “Thanks in part to your clear message on burden sharing, Donald, we have seen members pledge another $100 billion, increasing their contributions to our shared security.”

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