French candidate Fillon vows to fight Islamic extremism

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.