Macron rebukes Trump to his face on live television at NATO summit

Macron rebukes Trump to his face on live television at NATO summit
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Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron sparred in front of reporters over Turkey’s future in NATO and other differences, hours after the U.S. president assailed his French counterpart for “very nasty” comments about the military alliance that’s celebrating its 70th anniversary in London.

The exchange was a vivid display of the sour turn in the relationship between the two men, who were once close enough that Trump made Macron the guest of his first state dinner as president.

During remarks to reporters at a meeting on the sidelines of the NATO summit, Trump and Macron began by gently outlining their differing views on the alliance. But the conversation became more pointed after Trump invited Macron to take back Islamic State captives held by U.S.-allied forces in Syria.

“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.

“We don’t have the same definition of terrorism around the table…I do believe we need strategy clarifications on who is enemy today and peace in Europe."

French President Macron says he stands by his criticism of NATO

Trump has regularly complained that European countries refuse to accept the return of their citizens who joined Islamic State.

Then, after Macron forcefully criticized Turkey for a military offensive against Syrrian Kurds and for deploying a Russian-made air-defense system, Trump defended Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“They now are fighting against those who fight with us, who fought with us, shoulder to shoulder, against ISIS,” Macron said of Turkey in English. He questioned whether Turkey could remain in NATO while fielding the Russian weapon system, called the S-400.

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.

“Turkey for a long period of time wanted very much to buy the Patriot system,” Trump said. Obama, he said falsely, “wouldn’t sell” it.

In truth, the Obama administration offered the weapon to Turkey repeatedly but Erdogan refused because the U.S. deal didn’t include the Patriot’s underlying technology.

Macron interjected.

U.S. President Donald Trump makes a point with France’s President Emmanuel Macron in London, December 3, 2019. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS

“It’s their own decision,” he said of Turkey, adding that Europe had also offered to sell Erdogan an air-defense system. “Even having a European option, totally compliant with NATO. They decided not to be compliant with NATO.”

Trump has in the past expressed admiration for the French leader, but differences have recently emerged between them over NATO’s future and trade. On Monday, the U.S. said it would impose tariffs on France in retaliation for a new French tax on digital services provided by American technology companies.

Earlier in the day, Trump said Macron was “very disrespectful” when he warned recently of the “brain death” of NATO. The remarks were “very dangerous” and Trump said he could even envision France “breaking off.”

“NATO serves a great purpose,” the U.S. president said, adding that Macron’s remarks were a “very, very nasty statement essentially to 28 countries.”

It was a surprising turnaround from a president who has roiled previous NATO gatherings by questioning the purpose of the alliance and criticized allies for not paying enough into the pot. It also highlights a marked change in what was once Trump’s most important relationship in Europe. At the last NATO summit, it was Germany’s Angela Merkel who endured the verbal attacks.

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Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met in London on the sidelines of the summit where Trump said his country’s legislators have to ratify the new North American free-trade deal before Mexico and Canada lose interest in finalizing it.

Sitting next to Trump, Trudeau says he thinks the relationship between Canada and the United States has never been stronger.

Trudeau praised the work the U.S., Canada and Mexico have been doing to get the new NAFTA approved in all three countries’ legislatures.

The Democrats who control the U.S. House of Representatives haven’t brought the deal up for a vote amid concerns about enforcing environmental and labour standards on Mexican employers.

Lead negotiators for all three countries met over several days last week, trying to agree on refinements that could get the deal congressional approval.

The result is that Alberta is a magical land where rats never destroy vegetable gardens and nobody gets diseased from rat droppings in their attic

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