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Sunday 22 September 2019

Trump suggests France would have been vanquished without US

The American president asked how the First and Second World Wars worked out for France.

Donald Trump (AP)
Donald Trump (AP)

By Darlene Superville

Donald Trump has suggested France would have been vanquished in both world wars if not for the United States.

The US president tweeted about his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron’s suggestion that Europe would protect itself from the US, China and Russia.

Mr Macron argued that Europe should build up its military forces because it can no longer depend on America for defence.

Mr Trump tweeted: “Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the U.S., China and Russia. But it was Germany in World Wars One & Two – How did that work out for France? They were starting to learn German in Paris before the U.S. came along. Pay for NATO or not!”

Mr Trump often complains that Nato countries do not pay their fair share of the defence alliance’s expenses.

He criticised Mr Macron before and after attending a weekend ceremony in Paris to commemorate 100 years since the end of the First World War.

Mr Trump and Mr Macron met on Saturday at the Elysee Palace and discussed defence, trade and other issues.

A top adviser to Mr Macron said the French position has been “clarified”. The official said Mr Macron explained the European army issue to Mr Trump, stressing that France was not making a choice between a European defence mechanism and multilateral organisations such as Nato.

Mr Trump also complained about tariffs on US wines sold in France, and appeared to take a dig at Mr Macron’s low public approval rating.

The US leader tweeted that French tariffs on American wine is “not fair, must change!”

He wrote: “On Trade, France makes excellent wine, but so does the U.S. The problem is that France makes it very hard for the U.S. to sell its wines into France, and charges big Tariffs, whereas the U.S. makes it easy for French wines, and charges very small Tariffs. Not fair, must change!”

Nearly all US wine exports to major markets, including the European Union — face tariffs, according to the Wine Institute, which represents California winemakers in Washington on matters of tax, trade and regulatory issues.

Mr Trump, who built a career as a businessman before he entered politics, opened a winery in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2011.

The president added that “The problem is that Emmanuel suffers from a very low Approval Rating in France, 26%, and an unemployment rate of almost 10%. He was just trying to get onto another subject. By the way, there is no country more Nationalist than France, very proud people-and rightfully so!…….MAKE FRANCE GREAT AGAIN!”

Mr Macron is hovering at around 30% in popularity polls, while the unemployment rate is just above 9%.

Mr Trump’s continued complaints about France and Mr Macron struck a nerve with some in the European nation, especially since the president’s latest broadsides came on the third anniversary of the Paris terror attacks that killed 130 people in 2015.

It prompted French journalist Hugo Clement to tweet in response: “We are already great, especially on november 13th. Go back to your room and give the phone to an adult.”

Mr Trump also defended his decision to cancel a trip on Saturday to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery at Belleau Wood in Northern France after rainy weather grounded his helicopter.

The US president did go ahead with a trip and a speech in the rain on Sunday at the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial just outside Paris.

He tweeted: “By the way, when the helicopter couldn’t fly to the first cemetery in France because of almost zero visibility, I suggested driving. Secret Service said NO, too far from airport & big Paris shutdown. Speech next day at American Cemetary in pouring rain! Little reported-Fake News!”

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