Emmanuel Macron last month sparked uproar among NATO members after suggesting the organisation was “brain-dead”. The French President claimed Europe is on “the edge of a precipice” and should begin considering itself a strategically important geopolitical power. But former Foreign Secretary hit out at Mr Macron pointing out France could help ease international tensions by paying more into NATO’s common defence budget.
Speaking to BBC’s Today programme, Mr Hunt said: “NATO certainly does face a number of challenges but those comments by President Macron are unhelpful given that the biggest single cause of tension in the NATO alliance is the fact that countries like France are only spending about 1.5 percent of their GDP on defence.
“America is spending 4 percent. In fact, around a third of the cost of defending Europe is met by American taxpayers.”
The former Conservative frontbencher added: “You don’t have to be President Trump to understand why that’s a cause of tension.”
NATO leaders came together in London on Tuesday to mark the 70th anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation with a dinner at Buckingham Palace ahead of a meeting on Wednesday morning.
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Mr Macron met with US President Donald Trump for a bilateral meeting ahead of the royal banquet, with the two leaders sharing a tense press conference after their talk.
The pair exchanged terse words over several subjects while members of the press observed them. Mr Trump mocked the European leader for giving “the greatest non-answer” causing reporters and onlookers to burst into laughter.
One journalist asked Mr Trump whether France would take back French terrorists captured in Syria and Iraq.
The US leader responded: “We have a tremendous amount of captured ISIS fighters in Syria.
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“It is true that you have fighters coming from Europe, but this is a tiny minority of the overall problem we have. We will have a case-by-case approach.
“But for me, the very first objective in the region is to finish war against ISIS. You have more and more of these fighters due to the situation today.”
President Trump mocked the Frenchman’s response: “This is why he’s a great politician.
“That’s one of the greatest non-answers I’ve ever heard.”
The press conference filled with laughter as those present chuckled at the biting joke.