French presidential front-runner Francois Fillon has called for a new military alliance in Europe after US President Donald Trump described NATO obsolete.
Fillon, the former French prime minister, said the new alliance must aim to protect the continent and fight Takfirism, an extremist ideology which has its roots in Saudi Arabia.
The leading contender for France's April-May election made the remarks in an interview with Le Monde and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung ahead of a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.
Washington, he said, is aggravating the Takfiri threat as he urged Europe to "organize itself", citing Trump’s "aggressive discourse". Fillon did not elaborate on how the new alliance would work with NATO.
Speaking to reporters after his meeting with Mekel, Fillon also condemned US fines against European banks.
He cited US penalties on German and French banks under the Obama administration as examples of American unilateralism that the Europeans need to confront.
“I think there’s a shared vision by France and Germany that we can’t let them impose rules tailored for the US and its banking system that are negative tools for Europe,” Fillon said.
“I told Merkel we should put all these topics on the table,” he said.
Fillon also called for the restoration of relations between Europe and Russia to help confront Trump’s “America First” policy.
“Trump made rather aggressive comments toward Europe,” he said. “The consequence must be to strengthen Europe solidarity and accelerate Europe’s reform” while preventing Trump and Putin from making deals “behind our backs”, he added.
The election of Trump as the US president has raised concerns among many US allies.
The spokeswoman for the British prime minister said Monday that Theresa May would stress the significance of free trade and voice her support for the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran during her upcoming meeting with Trump.
Trump threatened during his election campaign that he would “tear up” the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or try to renegotiate its terms if elected US president.
"You can expect the prime minister to be very clear during her US visit on the benefits of free trade and championing them and wanting to look at what more can be done to increase that," the spokeswoman said.
May is also expected to raise the continued importance of NATO during her talks with Trump.
She is scheduled to meet Trump in Washington on Friday, a day after she attends the annual "Republican Retreat" in Philadelphia.