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Trump visit to London may be overshadowed by Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech as he attends the annual conference of the French maritime economy in Montpellier, southern France, on Dec. 3, 2019.

LONDON – President Donald Trump lashed out at France’s President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday ahead of scheduled direct talks between the two leaders on the sidelines of NATO meetings talking place in Britain’s capital. 

Quarrels over defense spending, fights about trade and climate policy, rifts over Turkey’s actions in Syria, and Iran – Trump is in London for a gathering connected to the military alliance’s 70th anniversary. The official program starts Wednesday.  

But ahead of that, Trump said Tuesday recent comments from Macron that NATO is experiencing “brain death” were “very insulting” to the alliance’s other 28 members. “Nobody needs NATO more than France,” he said. 

“It’s a very dangerous statement for them to make.”

Trump’s NATO visit now risks being overshadowed by his meeting with Macron. 

“Macron is seizing (the) moment, seeking to be disruptive in his own way, and so we will see how that works,” said Heather Conley, a foreign affairs expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. 

NATO comes to London:Cracks in alliance’s armor begin to show

Among Macron’s disruptions: Continuing to argue for the relevance of the Iran nuclear deal that Trump has withdrawn from; announcing at the end of August that Europe needed to seek a greater accommodation with Russia and China; and his “brain death comments,” made in an interview in The Economist and a reference, in part, to NATO member Turkey’s incursion into Kurdish-held Syria to root out fighters it considers terrorists but who had also been assisting U.S.-led forces battle the Islamic State group. Macron has long argued that Trump’s exit from the climate accord was a mistake. He wants the military alliance to pivot more toward fighting international terrorism.  

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