US President Donald Trump mocked the French president's approval rating, his support for a European army and said the country spends too little on defence.

US President Donald Trump shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron as he arrives at a commemoration ceremony for Armistice Day, 100 years after the end of World War One, at the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris, France, November 11, 2018.
US President Donald Trump shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron as he arrives at a commemoration ceremony for Armistice Day, 100 years after the end of World War One, at the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris, France, November 11, 2018. (Reuters)

US President Donald Trump attacked his French counterpart on Tuesday in a series of tweets that underscored how much the once-friendly ties between the two leaders have soured, just two days after returning from Paris.

In five posts sent on the same day that French officials marked the anniversary of the 2015 terrorist attacks that killed 130 people in Paris, Trump blasted the key US ally over its near defeat to Germany in two world wars, its wine industry and Macron's approval ratings.

Trump returned to Washington from a weekend in Paris to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War One where strained relations between the American president and European allies were on full display.

On Tuesday, Trump rejected Macron's warnings against the threat of nationalism, delivered during an emotional ceremony in Paris on Sunday attended by scores of world leaders.

A stony-faced Trump, who listened a few feet away, has described himself as a nationalist and has promoted an "America First" policy.

TRT World's Nicole Johnston has the latest from Washington, DC.

Trump, a real estate developer and former reality television star who owns a Virginia winery, said Macron has a "low approval rating," accused France of unfair trade practices over wine and attacked the news coverage of his trip.

Trump pointed to Macron's recent comments about Europe's need to protect itself, tweeting "it was Germany in World Wars One & Two - How did that work out for France? They were starting to learn German in Paris before the US came along. Pay for NATO or not!"

"By the way, there is no country more Nationalist than France, very proud people - and rightfully so!" Trump wrote in other tweets, ending with "MAKE FRANCE GREAT AGAIN!"

He defended his much-criticised absence from a commemoration event on Saturday, saying the US Secret Service had vetoed driving to the venue because of logistics. 

The White House earlier had said it canceled Trump's appearance, citing poor weather that grounded a planned helicopter flight to the site.

White House Director of Strategic Communications Mercedes Schlapp, meanwhile, cast Trump's Paris trip in a positive light.

"It was clearly a successful trip," Schlapp told Fox News on Tuesday, saying Trump and Macron "had a productive meeting" on trade and NATO.

"He has sent a strong message to our European allies. And we have seen some changes and some positive shifts coming from our allies to pay more to NATO. We need their support," she said.

French reaction

The office of French President Emmanuel Macron offered no comments.

Asked to comment, the office of the French president said it had nothing to say about the tweets, but added that Macron had made his points about a European army and European defence very clear to Trump during talks they held on Saturday in Paris.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Monday that Trump had isolated himself at one of the weekend events by deciding not to attend the Paris Peace Forum, which Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin attended.

Trump also traveled in a motorcade to the Armistice commemoration while most other world leaders walked the last 100 metres (328 ft) or so to the ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe.

Asked on television if the United States was still a French ally, Le Drian answered yes.

US a threat?

The weekend started uncomfortably. Before his arrival, Trump had blasted comments that Macron made in a radio interview in which he appeared to cast the United States as a threat.

Discussing the dangers of cyberhacking, political meddling and the US decision to withdraw from a missile treaty, Macron said Europe needed to protect itself against "China, Russia and even the United States."

He went on the interview to talk about the need for a European army, citing the threat from Russia and saying that Europe needed to "better defend itself by itself, without depending solely on the United States."

Both French officials and the White House said any misunderstandings had been cleared up after Macron and Trump held talks on Saturday.

But on Sunday, Macron delivered his hard-hitting remarks.

"Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism," he said.

"When we say 'our interests come first, those of others don't matter,' we erase the very thing that a nation holds most precious, that which gives it life and makes it great: its moral values."

Source: TRTWorld and agencies