Dec. 3 (UPI) — U.S. President Donald Trump met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in London Tuesday for a bilateral meeting at the start of what’s intended to be a celebration of the alliance’s platinum anniversary.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is paying tribute to its post-World War II founding in 1949 with 12 charter nations and its membership that’s now grown to 29 states.
During his meeting with Stoltenberg, Trump was asked a variety of questions — including recent remarks from French President Emmanuel Macron that said the alliance is approaching “brain death.” The U.S. president called the comments “nasty” and “disrespectful.”
“It is a very, very nasty statement,” he said of Macron’s characterization, which was given in an interview with The Economist. “I think they have a very high unemployment rate in France. France is not doing well economically at all.”
“It is a very tough statement to make when you have such difficulty in France when you look at what is going on,” he added. “They have had a very rough year. You just can’t go around making statements like that about NATO. It is very disrespectful.
“NATO serves a great purpose.”
Macron also said Europe needs to think of itself as a geopolitical power in its own right, due in part to waning support for NATO from the United States.
“What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO,” he told the magazine.
“Nobody needs NATO more than France,” Trump answered Tuesday.
Trump’s remarks came ahead of a planned meeting with Macron later Tuesday morning at London’s Winfield House, the home of the U.S. ambassador to Britain.
After meeting with Macron, Trump will meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Prince Charles and then Queen Elizabeth II at a NATO reception at Buckingham Palace. A meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will follow.
“I will be meeting with him, yes,” he told reporters, adding that he has “no thoughts” about Britain’s upcoming Dec. 12 elections.
“I don’t want to complicate it.”
Trump’s comments came one day after his administration proposed tariffs on $2.4 billion in French goods in retaliation against Paris’ new digital services tax that Trump said unfairly targets American technology companies.