Tuesday 17 September 2019

Criticism as rain stops Trump cemetery visit

US President Donald Trump has been criticised for failing to go to the cemetery (Thibault Camus/AP)
US President Donald Trump has been criticised for failing to go to the cemetery (Thibault Camus/AP)


Donald Trump was yesterday criticised for cancelling his visit to a cemetery in France for Americans killed in WWI.

Trump was due to visit the cemetery yesterday, but the White House cancelled the trip because of rain which grounded the presidential helicopter that was to fly him to Belleau - about a two-hour drive east of Paris.

The White House sent a delegation that included chief of staff John Kelly in his place.

Meanwhile Trump and French president Emmanuel Macron yesterday agreed on the need for more European defence spending, papering over an earlier Trump tweet that had described Macron's call for a European army as "very insulting".

Meeting for talks a day before commemorations to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, Macron welcomed Trump under rainy Parisian skies with a firm handshake. But there appeared to be less immediate warmth between the two than in the past. Macron put his hand on Trump's knee and referred to him as "my friend", while Trump kept more distance, though he also talked up common ground on an issue that had caused friction.

"We want to help Europe but it has to be fair. Right now the burden sharing has been largely on the United States."

Macron echoed those sentiments, saying he wanted Europe to bear a greater share of the defence costs within NATO, a point he has made repeatedly since taking office.

Trump's visit is aimed at bolstering the US-European alliance at a symbolic time, with the world marking the centenary of 1918's armistice.

But in a tweet prior to landing in Paris, Trump took a dim view of comments Macron made in which he seemed to cast the US as a threat.

Discussing the dangers of cyber-hacking, meddling in electoral processes and the US decision to withdraw from a missile treaty, Macron said Europe needed to protect itself against threats from China, Russia "and even the US".

Trump, who has pushed NATO allies to pay more for common defence, complained.

"Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the US subsidises greatly," Trump said on Twitter.

Sunday Independent

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