Trump Trolls Macron by Offering Him ‘Some Nice ISIS Fighters’

US President Donald Trump (R) and France's President Emmanuel Macron react as they talk during their meeting at Winfield House, London on December 3, 2019. - NATO leaders gather Tuesday for a summit to mark the alliance's 70th anniversary but with leaders feuding and name-calling over money and strategy, the …
LUDOVIC MARIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

President Donald Trump has taunted French President Emmanuel Macron over French Islamist fighters in Syria, asking him if he would like “some nice ISIS fighters” sent back to France.

On Tuesday morning, President Trump had criticised Mr Macron for his “nasty” comments about NATO, who last month had said the defence union was suffering a “brain death”. But the rift appeared to be lifted during the afternoon’s bilateral press meeting between the two world leaders, with the American president ribbing the French premier over his commitment to accept returning foreign fighters.

President Trump told reporters that he had not yet raised with President Macron his repeated calls for European countries to take their citizens home, with the terrorists currently in U.S. custody in Syria.

“We have a tremendous amount of captured fighters ISIS fighters over in Syria, and they’re all under lock and key. But many are from France, many are from Germany, many of them are from the UK.

“They [foreign fighters] are mostly from Europe. Some of the countries are agreeing [to take custody of them].

“I have not spoken to the president about that. Would you like some nice ISIS fighters? I can give them to you. You can take every one you want.”

Mr Macron deflected the question by saying that “foreign fighters coming from Europe” represent only a “tiny minority of the overall problem”.

In response, President Trump quipped: “This is why he’s a great politician, because that was one of the greatest non-answers I’ve ever heard, and that’s okay.”

The U.S. president continued to say that “France has actually taken back some fighters”, and during the press conference, he praised France’s effort for taking the lead in fighting Islamic militants in Africa. Operation Barkhane seeks to defeat jihadists in the Sahel region, with France committing 4,500 soldiers in its counter-terrorism force.

Gesturing that Macron was now in fact “very much involved and likes NATO”, President Trump said his French counterpart “wants it also to be utilised properly. If it’s not utilised properly, we all agree it’s no good.”

The Present also remarked that the defence union “has come a long way in three years and that is something we’re very proud of because we’re with them. NATO serves a fantastic function if everybody’s involved.”

However, he remarked that some members had not “stepped up” and suggested trade sanctions to encourage NATO members to pay their fair share towards their defence.

“They’re really stepping up, for the most part, they’re all stepping up. We have one or two that aren’t, and we’ll have to deal with them in a different way… as I said, we’ll deal with them on trade. We have a lot of power with respect to trade. They make a fortune with the United States and then they don’t pay their bills, that’s no good but NATO’s come a long way in three years. It has become very powerful, and it’s become I think a much fairer statement.”

“Other people were paying one per cent; some people were paying less than one per cent of a very small GDP. It’s not fair. If they get attacked, we protect them, but it’s not fair, so a lot of changes have been made,” President Trump added.

President Trump has criticised NATO members’ commitment to the defence union since the 2015 campaign trail, and his objections have resulted in some allies recommitting to the two per cent GDP minimum spending on defence. The United States currently underwrites approximately 70 per cent of NATO costs, paying 3.4 per cent of its GDP on defence.

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