Trump, Macron trade jabs over captured ISIS prisoners

Trump, Macron trade jabs over captured ISIS prisoners

With the possibility of Trump winning reelection next year, and Macron in office until at least 2022, both have an interest in ensuring a squabble doesn't become a bitter break-up.

At another point in their extended comments before the news media, Trump and Macron had a curt exchange about the repatriation of Islamic State fighters who are European citizens and were captured in Syria and Iraq in recent years.

Trump said the matter hadn't come up yet but jokingly asked Macron, "Would you like some nice ISIS fighters?".

"Let's be serious. It is true you have current fighters coming from Europe".

"It's not yet done".

"And it is not done, I'm sorry to say that".

But the US leader's broadside came only hours after splits opened up elsewhere in the alliance, with Turkey threatening to block a plan to defend Baltic states unless the alliance backs it in recognising the Kurdish YPG militia as a terrorist group.

"When I look at Turkey they are fighting against those who fought with us shoulder to shoulder against ISIS and sometimes they work with ISIS proxies", Macron said.

Despite the current strains, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenber insisted that NATO was "the most successful alliance in history", telling CNN ahead of the gathering that the allies "have been able to change again and again when the world is changing".

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"He wants to make sure future generations have climate that is good climate as opposed to a disaster, and I agree".

Turkey has raised the ire of its allies by invading northern Syria, and for buying Russian air defence systems with powerful computers aboard that suck up data and would compromise the military equipment of allies if they were stationed nearby.

"I think we get along with Russia", Trump said, pointing to Macron and saying that he has a similar view.

Meanwhile, Mr Macron says North Atlantic Treaty Organisation needs "a wake-up call", insisting that strategic issues, such as handling an unpredictable ally like Turkey, must be addressed. Beforehand, Trump said he wouldn't blame Trudeau or Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador for walking away while the deal waits for a vote in the U.S. Congress.

"We flew over areas that was totally controlled by Turkey and Turkish military", Trump said.

On trade specifically, Trump said things will soon be looking "rosy".

Trump showed a measure of deference to Erdogan, noting that Turkey was "very helpful" during an October US special commando raid that lead to the death IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi near Syria-Turkey border. (Diplomats are comfortable just blurting this out to a major newspaper because they know Trump does not read articles.) The whole trick is to choreograph an elaborate ruse in which Trump will believe he forced the allies to submit to his will and won. "We want nothing to do with it", he said. "It's not going to be France". They pledged to "move toward" spending 2% of their annual GDP on national defense by 2024.

Trump said much more needs to be done.

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