Trump calls Macron’s ‘brain death’ NATO comment ‘very nasty’

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday took aim at President Emmanuel Macron over the French leader’s criticism of NATO, and criticized the other members of the military alliance for being too slow to beef up their defence budgets.

As prime ministers and presidents of the 29-member alliance converged on London for a summit marking NATO’s 70th birthday, Trump told reporters Macron’s comments were “very nasty” when he lamented the “brain death” of the organization due in large part to a lack of U.S. leadership.

“Sometimes he’ll say things that he shouldn’t say,” Trump said. “Sometimes I think he does things that are counterproductive for his own country.”

During campaigning for the last election, Trump described NATO as “obsolete.” He has since tempered his criticism somewhat.

Relations between the U.S. and France are particularly strained this week after The U.S. Trade Representative proposed introducing tariffs on $2.4 billion in goods in retaliation for a French tax on global tech giants including Google, Amazon and Facebook. Trump and Macron are due to meet on the sidelines of the summit.

Discussing military funding, Trump noted that “a lot of countries haven’t paid.”

After Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014, NATO countries halted their post-Cold War spending cuts and began increasing spending. They pledged to “move toward” spending 2% of GDP on their national defence budgets by 2024.

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