French president calls for united European army

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"It's right that we honour the marshals who led France to victory", Macron said in the town of Charleville-Mezieres, part of a tour of northern France marking the centenary of the war's end.

"When I see President Trump announcing that he's quitting a major disarmament treaty which was formed after the 1980s Euromissile crisis that hit Europe, who is the main victim?" Macron went on to name potential threats to European security; the short list included the likes of Russia, China, and surprisingly, the United States.

Asked about Macron's remark earlier in the day and whether the Commission supported the creation of a "European army", chief spokesman Margaritis Schinas noted that new EU project to collaborate on defense procurement and research as well as new EU military peacekeeping missions beyond Europe's borders.

Macron has spearheaded the creation of a nine-country European force, independent from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, that could rapidly mount a joint military operation, evacuate civilians from a war zone, or provide aid after a natural disaster.

"The idea of creating a common strategic culture is not a bad one", he told AFP.

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The suspected plot was uncovered days before US President Donald Trump and dozens of other world leaders are due in France for commemorations this weekend of the signing 100 years ago of the November 11 armistice that ended World War I.

"This anger is directed at an ultra-liberal Europe which no longer allows our middle classes to live decently", he said, using a term associated in France with an excessively free-market ideology. He quoted Gen. Charles de Gaulle, leader of the Free French forces in World War II and the nation's universal hero, as saying of Petain in 1966 that "the glory he earned in Verdun. can be neither contested nor go unrecognized by the nation".

The suspects range in age from 22 years old to 62.

Macron convincingly defeated the far-right Front National candidate Marine Le Pen in the May 2017 presidential campaign.

In an Ifop poll in May, the LREM was seen winning 27 percent of the European Union parliament vote, well ahead of the far-right's 17 percent and more than Macron's 24 percent in the first round of France's April 2017 presidential elections.

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