Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron attempted to defuse tensions with comments made by both leaders this week at the beginning of an event weekend that marked 100 years after the end of the First World War.
The Presidents of the United States and France advocated a unified opinion on whether Europe should establish its own army, but their meeting had a fragile beginning.
Trump responded to his host when he arrived in France late on Friday, tweeting that Europe should pay.his fair share of NATO".
Macron's office said Trump had misunderstood the comments of the French president. The heads of state and government met on Saturday in the Élysée Palace. After the tweet, Trump asked Macron to "understand that the United States can only do so much," adding the US wanted to help. Trump said he and Macron were "from the standpoint of fairness".
Macron said, "I share President Trump's belief that we need a much better balance of payments with NATO, and I therefore believe that my proposal for a European defense is right [is] absolutely in line with it. "
An official in Macron's office said Trump had combined two different comments from the French president, and the comments would be on the table for the meeting on Saturday.
Macron said in an interview earlier this week that Europe needs to protect itself from "cyberspace" "China, Russia and even the United States". Later, Macron repeated that Europe needed to build its own military, as it could no longer rely on the defense of the United States.
Trump has put forward similar arguments, in particular by calling on NATO's European members to increase their share of defense spending.
Both leaders kept their fingers crossed for the waiting reporters outside the Élysée Palace, but ignored the questions about Macron's remarks and Trump's reaction. Before the leaders went behind closed doors in talks, Macron called Trump "my good friend."
Trump will join forces with several other world leaders on Sunday for a ceremony in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the First World War.
In France, Trump and his wife Melania visit the American cemetery in Belleau on Saturday to pay tribute to US soldiers who died on French soil during the First World War.