PARIS (Reuters) – US President Donald Trump struck against French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday, saying it was "very insulting" to suggest that Europe should establish its own army to protect itself from potential opponents ,

US President Donald Trump beckons as he arrives aboard Air Force One at Orly Airport near Paris to commemorate the Day of the Armistice, 100 years after the end of the First World War on November 9, 2018 in France , REUTERS / Carlos Barria

Arriving in Paris on the occasion of the centenary of the First World War ceasefire, Trump unleashed a note on Twitter in which he said Macron had "only suggested that Europe build its own military to protect itself from the US, China and Russia. "

"Very offensive, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the US heavily subsidizes," Trump added, reiterating his repeated demand that European nations contribute more to financing the Western Alliance.

Macron said on French radio on Tuesday that Europe needed a real army to reduce the United States dependence on defense in the face of resurgent Russia.

"We will not protect the Europeans unless we choose a true European army," Macron said.

"In the face of Russia, which is close to our borders and has shown that it could be threatening – I want to build a real security dialogue with Russia, a country I respect, a European country – but we have to have a Europe, that can defend itself without relying solely on the United States, "he added.

The Executive of the European Commission later reiterated Macron's demand for a European military capability. The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has long supported the idea that the European Union should have more common defense capability.

The Commission's Chief Representative, Margaritis Schinas, said the EU is working on cooperation in defense procurement and research, as well as on developing EU military peacekeeping capabilities.

"I do not think this defense identity will begin with an EU army," Schinas said Tuesday.

"At some point, probably at the end of this process, we may see something that people already refer to as the EU army or pooling EU resources to make this EU defense identity more visible and meaningful," Schinas said.

Reporting by Steve Holland; Writing by Tim Ahmann and David Alexander; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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