Donald Trump has criticised French President Emmanuel Macron for an “insulting” proposal to build up Europe’s military to counter the US, China and Russia.
The US president tweeted after arriving in Paris ahead of an international commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended the First World War. He planned to meet Mr Macron on Saturday for talks on topics expected to include European security, Syria and Iran.
As he arrived, he tweeted that Mr Macron “has just suggested that Europe build its own military in order to protect itself from the US, China and Russia. Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of Nato, which the US subsidises greatly!”
For Sunday’s anniversary, Mr Trump is to join world leaders at a ceremony in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe. “It should be a very beautiful period of time, the 100th anniversary of the ending of World War I.
“We have many countries — the leadership from many countries will be there, especially since they heard the United States will be there. And we look forward to that,” Mr Trump told reporters before leaving the White House.
“I’ve seen what they have planned, and I think it’s going to be something very, very special.”
Mr Trump originally wanted to celebrate Veterans Day on Sunday with a grand military parade in Washington, as he was inspired by the tanks and flyovers he saw during France’s Bastille Day celebrations when he visited Paris in July of last year.
Mr Trump ordered the Pentagon to come up with plans for his own version, but they were eventually scrapped over concerns about costs and the damage tanks weighing many tons would do to the streets in Washington.
The president and first lady Melania Trump were expected to visit several memorial sites in France that are dedicated to American service members.
Not on Mr Trump’s schedule, despite earlier discussions about the possibility, was an extended meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “I don’t know that we’re seeing each other in Paris, but we may,” Mr Trump said. “There may be a lunch for the leaders.”
The White House and the Kremlin had previously considered a formal meeting in Paris. That now seems more likely for later this month, when they attend the G20 summit of international leaders in Argentina. Mr Trump and Putin have met previously on the sidelines of two summits and had their own bilateral meeting in July in Helsinki.
At that meeting, Mr Trump would not say whether he believed Mr Putin or US intelligence agencies about their conclusions about Russia’s interference with the 2016 presidential election. Mr Trump’s brief visit to Europe comes amid uncertainty about the US relationship with the continent.
He has railed against trade deals with the European Union and has criticised some EU nations, including France, for not spending enough on defence to sustain Nato, the decades-old Western alliance formed as a bulwark to Moscow’s aggression.