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NATO Summit

Trump starts diplomatic row with 'nasty' French president Macron

Trump is in London for a two-day meeting of alliance leaders.

LAST UPDATE | 3 Dec 2019

nato-summit-2019 PA Wire / PA Images PA Wire / PA Images / PA Images

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump has ignited a fresh diplomatic row with French President Emmanuel Macron, accusing him of “insulting” North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) allies.

Trump, who is in London for a two-day meeting of alliance leaders, said Macron had been “very disrespectful” after he claimed this alliance was “brain dead”.

Macron’s comments followed Turkey’s incursion against the Kurds in northern Syria without warning other Nato members – a move that alarmed other allies.

Speaking during a breakfast meeting with Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg at the US ambassador’s residence, Trump said: “I think that is very insulting to a lot of different forces.

“It is a very, very nasty statement. I think they have a very high unemployment rate in France. France is not doing well economically at all.

“It is a very tough statement to make when you have such difficulty in France, when you look at what is going on with the yellow vests.

“They have had a very rough year. You just can’t go around making statements like that about Nato. It is very disrespectful.”

Earlier, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued an appeal for Nato unity amid increasing strains within the Western alliance over the conflict in Syria.

Johnson will break off from the election campaign to host a gathering of Nato leaders in Britain marking the alliance’s 70th anniversary.

Nato began as a 12-member alliance to counterbalance the growing military might of the Soviet Union and to keep the peace in post-war Europe.

The political and military alliance now has 29 member countries.

Recent meetings

The meetings come after Johnson, Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel all sought to raise the issue of Turkey’s incursion last October across the border into Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syrian.

The invasion took place after Trump effectively gave the Turkish president the green light – to the dismay of other Western capitals as well as many in Washington.

It was widely seen to have strengthened both the Russian position in Syria and that of the Assad regime – who the Kurds were forced to turn for help – while triggering a fresh humanitarian crisis.

Tweet by @Donald J. Trump Donald J. Trump / Twitter Donald J. Trump / Twitter / Twitter

Meanwhile, Downing Street will be hoping the US president does not decide to intervene in the general election campaign in such a way as to rebound against Johnson.

Trump has previously urged the Prime Minister to form an alliance with Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage while warning that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would take Britain to “bad places”.

Johnson said last week that “close friends and allies” like the UK and the US should not get involved in each other elections.

The formal Nato events will begin with a reception at Buckingham Palace hosted by the Queen on Tuesday evening.

The main talks will then take place tomorrow at The Grove, a country house hotel near Watford.

The meeting is expected to consider new threats, including in the areas of cyber and space, after the alliance last month declared space one of its operational domains alongside air, land, sea and cyber.

Johnson is expected to try to play peacemaker when he hosts the two leaders, together with Merkel, for talks in Downing Street today ahead of the main gathering.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The PM’s position is that Nato is the most enduring and successful alliance in military history and that it continues to adapt to the evolving threats that we face.

“It is the cornerstone of Euro-Atlantic security and it helps to keep a billion people safe.

“The PM will emphasise that all members must be united behind shared priorities so Nato can adapt to the challenges ahead.”

‘Our enemies’

Johnson has also issued a stinging criticism of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s security record by accusing him of siding with “our enemies” as world leaders arrive in the UK for the two-day summit.

The Conservative Party leader has blasted his election rival for his approach to Nato, which is marking its 70th anniversary, and to the threat of Russia.

In an interview with The Sun, the Tory leader said the UK’s closest allies were “very anxious” about Mr Corbyn being elected to Number 10 and accused him of being “naive” to the terror risk Britain faces.

The Prime Minister even suggested the likes of the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – the nations that, with Britain, make up the so-called Five Eyes intelligence-sharing agreement – could stop working closely with the UK if Corbyn became prime minister.

“Every time he has the chance, he sides with our enemies,” Johnson told the right-wing newspaper.

“A lot of our allies, particularly the Five Eyes, are very anxious about any future collaboration.

“It is absolutely not a Tory scare story. They have said precisely this.”

The Queen, meanwhile, is preparing to host Trump and other leaders at a Buckingham Palace reception for Nato leaders.

The controversial American billionaire-turned-politician, who will be joined by his wife Melania, will gather with Western politicians and their partners in the royal residence’s grand State Rooms.

Protesters are planning to march from London’s Trafalgar Square down The Mall to the palace to demonstrate as the event takes place today. 

The Queen, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will formally greet the Nato leaders at the reception, which marks 70 years of the alliance.

Prince Charles and the monarch will then join the politicians for a group photograph.

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