Trump arrives in Belgium ahead of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit, visits with May, Putin

Geneva Stokes
July 11, 2018

In a startling public outburst, Trump told NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that Germany was wrong to support a new $11-billion Baltic Sea pipeline to import Russian gas while being slow to meet targets for contributing to NATO defense spending that was meant to protect Europe from Russia.

German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen hit back nearly immediately: "We have a lot of issues with Russian Federation without any doubt", she told reporters in English. "I want to compliment the secretary general, he's worked very hard on this problem".

Previous US presidents also urged greater defence spending from European nations.

U.S. ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison told reporters that Trump would also recommit to one of the founding articles of NATO - Article 5 - which holds that an attack on one member is an attack on them all.

"Frankly Putin might be easiest of them all".

Trump has ramped up his rhetoric ahead of the talks - including in three separate tirades on Twitter on Monday and Tuesday - making the summit one of the most hard in years for the military alliance that has underpinned European security since World War II. "That's bound to lead Europeans to spend more on defence, but it doesn't further the American national interest".

Trump will not listen to advice, Wilson said.

Similarly, earlier on Tuesday the president tweeted, "Getting ready to leave for Europe".

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Trudeau was sideswiped last month by Trump's anti-establishment behaviour when the president trashed him on Twitter hours after the G7 summit in Quebec, calling him "very dishonest and weak".

Speaking at an EU-NATO ceremony ahead of the summit, he reminded Mr. Trump that European defense spending contributes to American security, which he said wasn't true of Russian and Chinese military spending.

'In committing additional troops to the Train Advise Assist operation in Afghanistan we have underlined once again that when North Atlantic Treaty Organisation calls the United Kingdom is among the first to answer'.

At a news conference recently European Council President Donald Tusk had a warning for Trump over his "almost daily" criticisms of Europe's defense spending."Dear President Trump, America does not have and will not have a better ally than Europe", Tusk said.

The alliance says that 15 members, or just over half, will meet the benchmark by that year, based on current trends. When Trump met with Kim, he agreed to stop military exercises with South Korea, without giving South Korea any advance notice. After locking horns over tariffs and trade at the G7 summit in Canada in June, the USA president left the meeting and immediately withdrew his endorsement of the joint communiqué en route to Singapore to meet with dictator Kim Jong Un.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May arrives on the continent wounded by the high-profile resignations of two senior cabinet members and Brexiteers: David Davis and Boris Johnson.

'The alliance can rely on the United Kingdom to lead by example, not just in meeting the 2 per cent pledge but by contributing our cutting-edge capabilities to operations around the world, ' she said.

His willingness to meet the Russian president unnerved some in the diplomatic community at a time when Mrs May has been seeking to isolate Moscow over the Salisbury nerve agent attack on ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, which has since claimed the life of 44-year-old Dawn Sturgess.

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