French FM says Europe must go on 'offensive' after Trump win

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Foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said that after Donald Trump's election as US president, and following the British referendum majority vote to leave the European Union, 'Europe must stand together more, be more active and go more on the offensive even if it is just to protect itself'.

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Europe must not flinch in defending its interests and people now that Donald Trump's election win has added to the uncertainty created by Britain's decision to exit the European Union, France's foreign minister said on Wednesday, reports Reuters.

France is a key American ally, and its officials had in recent weeks openly endorsed Hillary Clinton for US president and warned that Trump's "confused" foreign policy objectives were alarming for the rest of the world.

"We have to meet the challenge for a Europe that must be able to better defend its citizens and its interests," Jean-Marc Ayrault told France 2 television.

"Europe cannot blink after Brexit, after the election of Donald Trump with all the questions being raised, Europe must stand together more, be more active and go more on the offensive even if it is just to protect itself."

President François Hollande, who has yet to announce whether he will run for a second term in next year's French presidential election, said Paris wanted to immediately begin talks with Trump to clarify his stance on key international affairs.

"This American election opens a period of uncertainty," the socialist president told reporters. "In the context we need a strong France and a united Europe capable of expressing and carrying out its policy everywhere where its values and interests are put into question."

Trump's campaign was marked by insults and inflammatory rhetoric with regard to radical Islam, while on international affairs he has brought into question US policy on everything from Syria to Iran, Mexico and North Korea.

France, which vies with Britain for status as the world's fifth largest economy, has itself been reeling in the wake of several deadly attacks claimed by Islamic State group militants since last year.

Trump's comment in July that "France is no longer France", and that if it had looser gun laws then the attacks would not have happened, upset French officials.

"The US is a vital partner for France and what's at stake is peace, the fight against terrorism, the situation in the Middle East, economic relations and the preservation of the planet," said Hollande. "On all these levels, I will begin immediately discussions with the new American administration, but I will do it with vigilance and frankness."

With just six months to go before France goes to the polls, likely conservative candidates also sought to stress the importance of a stronger France and more united Europe.

Former president Nicolas Sarkozy, who is trailing rival Alain Juppé in opinion polls as they campaign for the conservative presidential ticket, said France must tackle the new world order head on.

Read more of this report from Reuters.

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