In Brief

Donald Trump blasts Emmanuel Macron for describing Nato as ‘brain dead’

US president says Macron’s statement was ‘very insulting’ and ‘dangerous’

Donald Trump has bitten back at Emmanuel Macron after the French president described Nato as “brain dead”.

On day one of a two-day Nato meeting, the US president said Macron’s remark was insulting and a “very, very nasty statement” that showed he was trying to break away from Nato.

Trump said: “Nato serves a great purpose. I think that’s very insulting. Nobody needs Nato more than France. It’s a very dangerous statement for them to make.”

Warming to his theme, he went on to slam Macron’s domestic woes. “I think they have a very high unemployment rate in France,” he said. “France is not doing well economically at all.

“They have had a very rough year. You just can’t go around making statements like that about Nato. It is very disrespectful. I’m looking at him [Macron] and I’m saying that he needs protection more than anybody, and I see him breaking off [from Nato]. So I’m a little surprised at that.”

Macron had rattled Trump during an interview with The Economist. The French president expressed frustration that Turkey, a Nato member, had entered northern Syria in October without consulting any Nato partner apart from the US.

Although Trump expressed annoyance at the comment, The Guardian points out that his defence of Nato sees him “discarding the fact he himself has described Nato as obsolete on previous occasions”.

Later, Trump and Macron appeared in front of the media together, in a news conference described as “tense” by CNN.

Macron refused to back down on his remarks about Nato, saying: “I know that my statements created some reaction. I do stand by [them].”

He then corrected the US president about the number of Islamic State fighters with European backgrounds after Trump asked if Paris was willing to take back French terrorists captured in Syria and Iraq.

“Let's be serious: The very large numbers of fighters you have on the ground are the fighters coming from Syria, from Iraq and the region,” Macron said. CNN's reporter Daniel Dale tweeted that this statement meant: “Macron fact checked Trump to his face.”

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