U.S. President Donald Trump lashed out - erroneously - at French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday, saying it was "very insulting" for him to suggest Europe should create its own army to protect itself from potential adversaries. "Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which the USA subsidizes greatly!"
Mr Macron was speaking in Verdun, northeast France on Tuesday, as part of a week-long tour of battlefields leading up to First World War Armistice centenary commemorations in Paris on Sunday.
Mr Macron said: "We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the US".
The US President Donald Trump has criticised a suggestion by President Macron of France for a joint European army as "very insulting". Mr. Trump's visit comes on the heels of midterm elections in which Americans delivered a split referendum on his presidency, keeping the Senate in his party's control but ceding the House to opposition Democrats.
Trump is scheduled to visit two American cemeteries over the course of the weekend, which will culminate with a solemn ceremony Sunday at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the Arc de Triomphe, a monument to France's war dead.
White House officials have said that Mr Trump would make clear the importance of America to European safety and security while on his trip.
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He has railed against trade deals with the European Union and has criticised some EU nations, including France, for not spending enough on defence to sustain North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the decades-old Western alliance formed as a bulwark to Moscow's aggression. "Europe and its security", the French president said.
"We will not protect the Europeans unless we decide to have a true European army".
The last time the Macrons hosted the Trumps in Paris in July 2017, during Bastille Day celebrations, they whisked them up the Eiffel Tower for a private dinner on the second floor. Not on Trump's schedule, despite earlier discussions about the possibility, was an extended meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Macron has been an outspoken critic of Trump's "America First" policies and his decisions to pull out of global agreements such as the Paris climate accord, the Iran nuclear deal and most recently a nuclear arms treaty.
"I don't think that this defense identity will start with an European Union army", Schinas said on Tuesday.
The president, joined by his wife Melania and high-ranking USA officials, arrived late on Friday aboard Air Force One for a visit that he called "very special" and one that he "looked forward to".