PARIS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday said that the goal of European defence autonomy could go hand in hand with NATO membership.
"We have succeeded in instilling the idea that European defense, and strategic defence autonomy, can be an alternative project to the trans-Atlantic organisation, but very much a solid component of this," Macron told a news conference before holding talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Macron also said U.S. President Joe Biden had expressed his respect for the European Union on the political level as well as his desire to work with the EU as a partner.
Merkel, who prefers to see NATO remain the centerpiece of European defence, said she was happy the U.S. had recreated a "climate of cooperation".
"It is very clear from the G7 and NATO talks that the United States sees itself as both a Pacific and an Atlantic nation and, given the strength of China, is naturally challenged to be much stronger in the Pacific than perhaps it was 20 years ago", she added.
"And that means for us Europeans that we have to take on certain tasks and responsibilities for ourselves ... but I see the absolute necessity - and I think this is also expected of the United States of America - that we act coherently", Merkel said.
(Reporting by Richard Lough and Paul Carrel; Editing by GV De Clercq and Jonathan Oatis)