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Macron Urges Big Strategic NATO Discussion at London Summit

French President Emmanuel Macron, left, and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg walk out of the lobby after a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Nov. 28, 2019.

NATO leaders must have a deep discussion about the future of the military alliance and how ties with Russia can be improved, French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday.

Ahead of a summit of NATO leaders in London next week, Macron held discussions with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Paris.

In a joint news conference, Macron said “a real alliance is action, decisions, not words. So, I want us to have a real dialogue among allies.”

Macron's call comes just three weeks after he said the alliance was “brain dead.”

Macron said he was glad his recent comments have acted as a “wake-up call” and that “it was irresponsible to just continue to talk only of financial and technical issues.”

He voiced his regret that the two previous NATO summits were focusing “only on how to alleviate the financial cost for the United States.”

Ever since he arrived at the White House nearly three years ago, President Donald Trump has argued that NATO members should not expect the U.S. to shoulder the lion's share of the alliance's military costs in the future. The U.S. spends more on defense than all other 28 allies combined.

At the Dec. 3-4 summit in London, Trump is expected to repeat his demand that European nations and Canada increase their defense spending.

Macron also said the alliance needs greater clarity of purpose, and to focus on the common enemy, which he said is neither Russia nor China, but extremist groups.

“Our common enemy within the alliance is the terrorism that has hit every of our countries,” he said.

Despite the in-fighting, Stoltenberg played down the divisions and insisted that NATO was as relevant as it has ever been.

“In uncertain times we need strong multinational institutions like NATO,” he said.

“The paradox is that while questions are being asked about the strength of the trans-Atlantic bond, North America and Europe are doing more together than they have done for decades.'”