BRUSSELS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron pressed Europeans to strengthen security cooperation and intelligence-sharing after a deadly attack in Manchester as he arrived in Brussels for a meeting of the NATO military alliance on Thursday.
The 39-year-old president, a newcomer to international diplomacy, will meet many of his counterparts for the first time over the next few days at the NATO meeting in the Belgian capital followed by a G7 summit in Sicily.
Welcomed by Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel at his Brussels residence, Macron promoted what he calls his “protection agenda” for Europe, which he said must include measures to protect workers from the effects of globalisation but also to beef up cooperation to prevent further attacks.
“Our British friends have, a few days ago, gone through what our two countries have gone through over the last few months, with the terrorist threat in Manchester,” Macron said at a joint news conference with Michel.
“Beyond solidarity, it’s obviously European cooperation that we need to reinforce, in the field of intelligence, information sharing, the protection of our common borders,” said Macron, who was elected just over two weeks ago.
British officials have expressed frustration over leaks to U.S. media on their investigation into Monday’s suicide bombing in Manchester which killed 22 people and, according to a British counter-terrorism source, have stopped sharing information on the bombing with the United States.
Macron will meet his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump for the first time at an informal lunch later that will immediately test his diplomatic skills, given the unpredictable nature of the U.S. leader.
The French president will also meet his Turkish and Polish counterparts and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
Writing by Michel Rose; Editing by Adrian Croft