PARIS (Reuters) - Any U.S. attempt to divide Europeans is doomed to fail as Washington lacks the capacity to offset the benefits the European Union offers its members, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said in an interview with newspaper Journal du Dimanche on Sunday.
Asked about the lack of unity of Europeans with regards to U.S. President Donald Trump's worldview, Ayrault said that the situation was changing, essentially because of Trump's "repeated attacks" against Europe.
"(...) I bet that any attempt to divide and rule Europeans will not work," Ayrault said. "For the United States absolutely do not have the capacity to offset the benefits the European Union offers to its members."
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"Even (British Prime Minister) Theresa May felt compelled to say, despite Brexit, that it was in the interest of the United States to have a strong Europe as a partner," Ayrault added.
He also said that France will not accept any foreign interference, whether Russian or American, on its April and May presidential election.
"Some attitudes or statements may imply" that the United States and Russia want to weaken Europe, Ayrault said.
As an example, he said that Russia expressed its preferences for French right-wing candidates such as conservative Francois Fillon and far-right leader Marine Le Pen, while pro-European independent centrist Emmanuel Macron suffered cyber attacks.
"This form of interference on the French democratic life is unacceptable ... France will not accept, the French will not accept to have their choices dictated," Ayrault said.
(Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain; Editing by Tom Brown)