Monday, 16 July, 2018

President Trump heads to Europe to face nervous NATO leaders

GETTYDonald Trump has accused some Nato countries of not spending their two per cent of GDP on defence GETTYDonald Trump has accused some Nato countries of not spending their two per cent of GDP on defence
Melinda Barton | 10 July, 2018, 22:43

The ties between the USA and many of its longest-standing allies have frayed since Trump took office and put his "America first" agenda into practice.

"It's going to be an interesting time in the United Kingdom and it's certainly going to be an interesting time with NATO", Trump told reporters at the White House.

The comments will be seen by many as an endorsement of Mr Johnson who is at the centre of speculation of an attempt to remove Mrs May from office as she tries to plough on with a weakened cabinet having also lost her Brexit Secretary David Davis. "Charge us big Tariffs (& Barriers)!" he wrote on Twitter.

But Trump countered by saying the arrangement puts the United States at a disadvantage, pointing to the measly share of gross domestic product (GDP) that most members spend on defense.

They agreed to be "guided" by "considerations" to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense by 2024.

From Belgium, Trump's trip will also take him to London, where Prime Minister Theresa May's government is in turmoil over her plans for exiting the European Union.

In Brussels, Merkel will defend her decision to raise defense spending more slowly than Trump's goal and seek to maintain the 35,000 US troops deployed to Germany, which Trump has threatened to pull back. "[Trump] is going to talk to Russian Federation, to Putin about his malign influence in so many areas", she said. They're also anxious about his potential embrace of Russia's Vladimir Putin during a summit in Helsinki.

Along with trade policies, Trump has been demanding that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members increase their defense spending to come into line with a 2014 commitment while complaining that Europe benefits more from the partnership than the United States.

Before he left Andrews Air Force Base, President Trump reiterated his demand for the U.S. to pay less and other members of the Western military alliance to pay more, and he linked the issue to the EU's trade surplus with the US.

'When NATO has a Russian Federation council with the Ambassador from Russian Federation, we talk about the concerns that we have about Ukraine, the concerns that we have about Crimea, ' she said. America's allies will pay close attention to his every word and seek strong reassurances that the United States will continue to play a leading role in the critical alliance.

Some diplomats fear the president will threaten to pull troops out of Europe without more spending on defense, despite USA denials.

Jans said it is vital to discuss not just how much countries are spending but if they are doing so in a way that makes them able to work together.

While Mr Trump is looking to improve relations with Russian Federation, there has been alarm at the deteriorating climate with his allies in Europe and what he might agree to with President Putin.

Mr. Trump, who has compared the Brexit vote to leave the European Union to his own election, will be making his maiden presidential trip to Britain at a fraught time for May.

Asked on ITV's Good Morning Britain programme if he would have endorsed a 20ft blimp of himself as a pig or Barak Obama in a nappy, he added: "Let me answer that directly".

Responding to questions from reporters, Trump said he couldn't say if Putin is a friend or foe, but that he is a competitor. "We are being taken advantage of by the EU".