Donald Trump, once the primary critic of NATO, blasted France’s Emmanuel Macron for his “very insulting” comments about the military alliance that’s celebrating its 70th anniversary in London.
The full-throttled attack came on Tuesday, hours before the two leaders were scheduled to meet face-to-face in London.
The U.S. president, who in the past has expressed admiration for the French leader, said Macron was “very disrespectful” when he warned recently of the “brain death” of NATO. The remarks were “very dangerous” and Trump said he could even envision France “breaking off.”
“NATO serves a great purpose,” the U.S. president said, adding that Macron’s remarks were a “very, very nasty statement essentially to 28 countries.”
That is quite the turnaround from a president who has roiled previous NATO gatherings by questioning the purpose of the alliance and why others weren’t paying enough into the pot. It also highlights a marked change in what was once Trump’s most important relationship in Europe. At the last NATO summit, it was Germany’s Angela Merkel who endured the verbal attacks.
A French official in Macron’s office said they would not “live comment everything that Trump says.”
About the same time Trump was speaking, Macron from the south of France boasted about France being “the leader” of Europe’s navy as he announced the state’s new order of six sea patrol vessels, Agence France-Presse reported. “We are building a European maritime capacity,” he said, “France has taken the lead.”