Trump, Macron may clash on European defense in Paris talks

US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as he departs the White House en route to Paris from Washington, US, November 9, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 10 November 2018
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Trump, Macron may clash on European defense in Paris talks

  • French officials said Macron’s mooted EU “army” was merely a call for closer defense integration
  • The French president, who has enacted major defense spending hikes to bring France in line with NATO spending targets

PARIS: US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron headed toward a potential clash in talks on Saturday after Trump took offense to what he called a “very insulting” comment from Macron about the need to create a European army.
Fresh off US congressional elections that saw his Republican Party’s power erode, Trump is spending the weekend in Paris to bolster the US-European alliance at World War One remembrance ceremonies.
But in a tweet prior to landing in Paris, Trump took a dim view of comments Macron made in a Europe 1 radio interview this week.
Discussing cybersecurity threats and global instability in general, Macron said Europe needs to protect itself against China, Russia and the United States.
Later in the interview he spoke about the need for a European army.
“Confronted by Russia, which is on our borders and which has shown itself willing to be threatening, we need to have a Europe that can better defend itself by itself and in a sovereign way, without depending solely on the United States,” he said.
Trump, who has pushed NATO allies to pay more for their common defense and not rely so heavily on the United States, complained.
“Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the US subsidizes greatly,” Trump said on Twitter.
The president, joined by his wife Melania and high-ranking US officials, arrived late on Friday aboard Air Force One for a visit that he called “very special” and one that he “looked forward to.”
Trump’s official mission on the trip is to participate in ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One. He will make pilgrimages to two American cemeteries, Belleau Wood two hours east of Paris on Saturday and Suresnes on the western outskirts of the capital on Sunday, where he will make formal remarks.
His trip comes just days after congressional elections delivered results that will complicate his next two years. While Republicans slightly expanded their majority in the US Senate, they lost control of the US House of Representatives to Democrats who may use their newfound power to launch investigations into Trump and stymie his agenda.
Trump’s talks with Macron at Elysee Palace are likely to cover European concerns about Trump’s plans to withdraw the United States from the 1980s Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Agreement and US renewal of sanctions against Iran.
Macron told Europe 1 radio that the “main victim” of the US withdrawal from the INF accord was Europe and its security.
The French president, who tried but failed earlier this year to talk Trump out of withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, has also voiced worries about the impact of sanctions on European companies doing business with Iran.
Trump may also chat briefly with Russian President Vladimir Putin when both are among dozens of world leaders gathered at the Arc de Triomphe to mark the end of the Great War 100 years ago. Trump and Putin are expected to have formal talks later this month when both attend a G-20 summit in Buenos Aires.
Trump, who has pursued “America First” policies since taking over the presidency in January 2017, declared himself a “nationalist” during the run-up to the congressional elections, a term likely to raise concerns in Europe.
“I’m not a globalist, but I want to take care of the globe, but first I have to take care of our country,” he told Fox News Channel’s “The Ingraham Angle” last week. “I want to help people around the world, but we have to take care of our country, or we won’t have a country.”


Australia warns citizens ahead of expected Jerusalem move

Updated 23 min 14 sec ago
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Australia warns citizens ahead of expected Jerusalem move

  • Morrison is expected to stop short of actually shifting Australia’s diplomatic corps to the Holy City, amid warnings from his own officials about the cost and security implications
  • But the move still risks heightening unrest, both in Australia’s immediate neighbor Indonesia — the world’s most populous Muslim nation — and further afield

SYDNEY: Australia on Friday warned citizens to take care while traveling in neighboring Muslim-majority Indonesia, ahead of an expected but contentious move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to announce — as soon as Saturday — that his government will follow US President Donald Trump’s lead and recognize the contested city as Israel’s capital.
Scores of Australians preparing to jet off to Bali and other tropical island destinations for upcoming summer holidays should “exercise a high degree of caution,” the Department of Foreign Affairs warned.
Officials in Canberra told AFP they expected the announcement to come on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, but cautioned that events could yet alter those plans.
Both Israel and the Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital. Critics say declaring Jerusalem the capital of either inflames tensions and prejudges the outcome of final status peace talks.
Trump’s decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv last May prompted tens of thousands of Palestinians to approach the heavily-protected Israeli border. At least 62 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire that day.
Morrison is expected to stop short of actually shifting Australia’s diplomatic corps to the Holy City, amid warnings from his own officials about the cost and security implications.
But recognizing Jerusalem would help the embattled Australian PM — who faces the prospect of an election drubbing next year — with Jewish and conservative Christian voters and win him friends in the White House.
His supporters argue Israel has the right to choose its own capital and peace talks are dead in the water, so there is no peace to prejudge.
But the move still risks heightening unrest, both in Australia’s immediate neighbor Indonesia — the world’s most populous Muslim nation — and further afield.
The Palestinian government would press for Arab and Muslim states to “withdraw their Ambassadors” and take some “meat and wheat” style “economic boycott measures” if the move went ahead, Palestinian ambassador to Australia Izzat Abdulhadi told AFP.
Indonesia’s government, facing domestic pressure at home, had reacted angrily earlier this year, when Morrison floated the idea of both recognizing Jerusalem and moving the Australian embassy there.
The issue has put the conclusion of a bilateral trade agreement on hold.
In the meantime, Australia’s foreign ministry has moved to prepare the ground.
“Demonstrations have been held in recent weeks around the Australian Embassy in Jakarta and the Australian Consulate-General in Surabaya,” it warned in a public notice Friday.
“Protests may continue at the Embassy in Jakarta or at any of Australia’s Consulates-General in Surabaya, Bali and Makassar,” the Department of Foreign Affairs said.”Exercise a high degree of caution.”
Tensions are currently running high between Israel and the Palestinians.
At least 235 Palestinians and two Israelis have died during violence in Gaza since March, mostly in border clashes.
On Thursday the Israeli army launched raids into the Palestinian city of Ramallah after a Palestinian shot dead two Israeli soldiers at a bus stop in the occupied West Bank.
Netanyahu vowed to ‘legalize’ thousands of settlements homes considered unlawfully-built even by Israel.
In total six people were killed in the most violent 24 hours to hit the West Bank and Jerusalem in months.