Trump: US wants 'a strong Europe,' but defense burden has to be 'fair'

Trump: US wants 'a strong Europe,' but defense burden has to be 'fair'
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Trump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn Seven years after Sandy Hook, the politics of guns has changed MORE on Saturday said the U.S. wants a "strong Europe," and is willing to help, but added that Europe "has to be fair" on sharing defense costs.

“We want a strong Europe, it’s very important to us and whichever way we can do it the best and more efficient would be something we both want,” Trump said after being greeted by French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.


Trump's comments came hours after he called out Macron in a tweet just as he landed in France.

"President Macron of France has just suggested that Europe build its own military in order to protect itself from the U.S., China and Russia," Trump wrote. "Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the U.S. subsidizes greatly!"

Asked to explain why he felt insulted by Macron's remarks, Trump said the burden of defense costs has fallen largely on the U.S.

"We want to help Europe but it has to be fair. Right now, the burden sharing has been largely on the United States, as the President will say, and he understands that," Trump added, referencing Macron. "And he understands that the United States can only do so much, in fairness to the United States."

Macron said he agreed that Europe could fund a larger share of the NATO alliance's costs.

"It’s unfair to have the European security today being assured just by the United States, and we need a much better burden sharing," Macron said.

"That’s why I do believe that we need more European capacities, more European defense, in order to take this part of the burden," he added. "When President Trump has to protect or to defend one of the states of the United States, he doesn’t ask France or Germany, or another government of Europe to finance it."

Trump hasn't publicly threatened to withdraw from NATO, but reports have indicated that during a July summit in Brussels, he privately threatened to do so if other member nations did not commit to increasing their defense spending.

He reportedly demanded that all countries “immediately” hit a goal of spending 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense, a goal which NATO nations had agreed to reach by 2022.

Macron on Saturday affirmed that France would reach the 2 percent goal.

"That’s why I do believe that we need more investment. It’s exactly what we do in France. It’s the first increase in terms of budget for defense, for the coming years. We will reach 2 percent," he said.

Macron's comments come just days after he said European nations can no longer rely on the U.S. to defend them.