Trump Slams Macron at NATO Summit: 'That Was One of the Greatest Non-answers I Have Ever Heard'

Macron 'needs protection more than anybody and I see him breaking off. So I'm a little surprised at that' said Trump as two leaders prepared to attend NATO summit, Macron accuses Turkey of working with ISIS proxies

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during his meeting with NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg at Winfield House in London, December 3, 2019.
AP/Evan Vucci

U.S. President Donald Trump said his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron gave "one of the greatest non-answers I have ever heard" at a joint news conference on Tuesday.

In response to a question posed to Trump by a U.S. journalist who asked whether France should do more to take Islamic State fighters captured in the Middle East, the U.S. president said he would pass that question on to Macron, asking him in a light-hearted tone if he would like "some nice ISIS fighters."

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The French president gave a long answer, in which he argued that foreign fighters from European countries were a small minority among Islamic State troops, and that it would be unhelpful to focus on them rather than on the broader problem.

"This is why he is a great politician because that was one of the greatest non-answers I have ever heard, and that's OK," Trump said. 

Macron, in his answer, accused Turkey of working with Islamic State proxies, and said Ankara needed to clarify those ambiguities during meetings this week.

"The common enemy today is the terrorist groups. I'm sorry to say, we don't have the same definition of terrorism around the table," Macron told reporters on Tuesday, at a news conference alongside Trump.

"When I look at Turkey they are fighting against those who fought with us shoulder to shoulder against ISIS (Islamic State) and sometimes they work with ISIS proxies."

Macron also dismissed a call by Trump for Paris to bring home its foreign fighters, saying that was not the priority. He said the focus needed to be on tackling Islamic State, which had still not been defeated.

Trump said earlier on Tuesday he could see France breaking off from NATO, and that French President Emmanuel Macron had been "very insulting" by describing NATO as "brain dead" as the two leaders prepared to attend a NATO summit.

"I do see France breaking off," Trump told reporters during a meeting with the head of NATO in London, describing such scenario as a surprise because he believes it needs more protection than anybody else.

"I'm looking at him (Emmanuel Macron) and I'm saying that he needs protection more than anybody and I see him breaking off. So I'm a little surprised at that."

About Macron's statements trump said "It's a tough statement, though, when you make a statement like that, that is a very, very nasty statement to essentially 28, including them, 28 countries," Trump told reporters as he met the head of NATO in London.

"I think that, you know, you have a very high unemployment rate in France. France is not doing well economically at all. They're starting to tax other people's products so therefore we go and tax them," Trump added.