'What are you at?' Trump presses Trudeau over North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defence spending
Dec 04 2019
Emerging technologies like hypersonic missiles and quantum computing are changing the threat landscape, the defense secretary said, urging that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation must to understand the challenges and adapt accordingly. He also firmly expressed his frustration that Trump withdrew hundreds of American troops from Syria in October.
"'We have a tremendous amount of captured fighters, ISIS fighters over in Syria", said Trump.
With the possibility of Trump winning reelection next year, and Macron in office until at least 2022, both have an interest in ensuring a squabble doesn't become a bitter break-up.
The exchange was a vivid display of the sour turn in the relationship between the two men, who were once close enough that Trump made Macron the guest of his first state dinner as president.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on November 29 lashed out at Macron, saying the French leader should have his "own brain-death checked" and accusing him of "a sick and shallow understanding" of terrorism.
That threat raises new questions about NATO's commitment to its collective defense clause - Article 5 - under which all allies vow to come to the aid of a member under attack.
Mr Trump said they were "looking at" whether to impose sanctions, while Mr Macron asked: "How is it possible to be a member of the alliance. and buy things from Russian Federation?"
But the USA leader's broadside came only hours after splits opened up elsewhere in the alliance, with Turkey threatening to block a plan to defend Baltic states unless the alliance backs it in recognising the Kurdish YPG militia as a terrorist group. We have one or two that aren't, and we'll have to deal with them in a different way... as I said, we'll deal with them on trade. "They were very supportive actually. We are helping Europe unite and go against a common foe - may not be a foe - I can't tell you".
He added: "We're going to continually invest more but we're going to do it in a way that is right for Canada and right from the alliance".
There was another tense moment when Trump was asked whether France had committed to taking back foreign fighters from Syria. But the conversation became more pointed after Trump invited Macron to take back Islamic State captives held by USA -allied forces in Syria. Would you like some nice ISIS fighters? "You could take every one you want".
"Let's be serious", Macron responded. "That was one of the greatest non-answers I've ever heard and that's okay".
Mr Trump, who previously accused climate experts of having a "political agenda", described how he "totally listened" to Prince Charles when the royal raised his concerns about the issue.