BERLIN Jan 12 French presidential candidate
Emmanuel Macron said he was sure the United States under
President Donald Trump would maintain close ties with the
European Union but said Europe would respond if Trump acted to
Trump has called for better relations between the United
States and Russia and during the presidential election campaign
rattled U.S. allies, especially in eastern Europe, by saying he
would consider a country's contributions to the NATO alliance
before coming to their aid.
French opinion polls show Macron, who is running as an
independent in the April-May presidential election in France, is
gaining on the frontrunners, conservative candidate Francois
Fillon and far-right leader Marine Le Pen.
"I want to at least give the new U.S. president a chance,
but the signals from Trump up to now have been going in another
direction. He doesn't rule out the dismantling of NATO," Macron
told Germany's Funke Mediengruppe newspaper chain in an
interview published on Thursday.
"I'm convinced it's in America's interest to cooperate with
the EU. We have common values and similarly structured
economies. I doubt that Trump would defend U.S. interests
without working with the EU or dealing with climate change," he
Asked about Trump's comments on NATO, Macron said: "We would
react if it came to that (weakening of the alliance). But I am
warning against developing premature scenarios," he said,
Trump's nominee for U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson,
on Wednesday told his confirmation hearing that NATO's mutual
defence guarantee, Article 5, was "inviolable".
Macron also said he backed expanding sanctions against
Russia if there were no progress in implementing the
long-stalled Minsk peace accords for eastern Ukraine, where
Kiev's forces have been battling pro-Russian separatists.
"I'm in favour of resolving the Ukraine conflict through the
Minsk peace accords. If there is no progress, it would make
sense to expand sanctions against Russia. At the same time, we
also need continuing and demanding discussions with Moscow," he
Fillon and Le Pen both support closer ties between France
and Russia and have indicated they would push for the sanctions
to be dropped.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Gareth Jones)