Europe

French candidate Fillon vows to fight Islamic extremism

  • French conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon delivers his speech on defense policy, Friday, March 31, 2017 in Paris. Two leading French presidential candidates lay out their plans for defense and foreign policy, with the country under a state of emergency after extremist attacks. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

    French conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon delivers his speech on defense policy, Friday, March 31, 2017 in Paris. Two leading French presidential candidates lay out their plans for defense and foreign policy, with the country under a state of emergency after extremist attacks. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)  (The Associated Press)

  • French conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon speaks on defense policy, Friday, March 31, 2017 in Paris. Two leading French presidential candidates lay out their plans for defense and foreign policy, with the country under a state of emergency after extremist attacks. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

    French conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon speaks on defense policy, Friday, March 31, 2017 in Paris. Two leading French presidential candidates lay out their plans for defense and foreign policy, with the country under a state of emergency after extremist attacks. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)  (The Associated Press)

  • French conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon arrives for a speech on defense policy, Friday, March 31, 2017 in Paris. Two leading French presidential candidates lay out their plans for defense and foreign policy, with the country under a state of emergency after extremist attacks. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

    French conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon arrives for a speech on defense policy, Friday, March 31, 2017 in Paris. Two leading French presidential candidates lay out their plans for defense and foreign policy, with the country under a state of emergency after extremist attacks. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)  (The Associated Press)

French conservative candidate Francois Fillon says his priority as president would be to fight Islamic totalitarianism, as the country is under a state of emergency after extremist attacks.

Fillon, a major contender in the two-round election of April 23 and May 7, proposed Friday to put in place a European defense alliance led by France and Germany.

"The Islamic totalitarian threat ... along with the weakening of the Atlantic Alliance through President Trump's rhetoric and contradictory signals, are forcing us to overhaul our alliances and take a second look at the question of European defense, which was neglected for too long," he said in a news conference.

He also promised to increase the country's defense budget to 2 percent of GDP by 2023, up from 1.78 percent now.