United Kingdom in turmoil, President Donald Trump says ahead of visit

Geraldine Edwards
July 11, 2018

"Russia should be in this meeting", Trump said in June.

NATO is keen to damp down trans-Atlantic differences during the two-day summit at its Brussels headquarters, despite divisions among the alliance's 29 members over Trump's policies on trade and his decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and an global climate agreement. Seven nations-the Czech Republic, Romania, Montenegro, Albania, Denmark, Croatia and Germany-contributed more troops to Afghanistan operations, as a percentage of their total military force, than the United States did between 2015 and 2017, according to analysis by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "Not fair to the USA taxpayer", he posted on his Twitter account. The EU did strike back with retaliatory tariffs on United States goods. EU President Donald Tusk sent the president a tweet, defending NATO's member states.

"Wow!" And in multiple tweets, he reiterated a familiar theme, complaining that the USA is shouldering an unfair share of defense costs overseas: "NATO countries must pay MORE, the United States must pay LESS", he tweeted.

"In normal times, a president of the United States would rally the allies, develop a unified approach, and go with a strengthened hand to negotiations with the president of Russian Federation, rather than reducing his own leverage" former North Atlantic Treaty Organisation deputy secretary general Alexander Vershbow said to The Times.

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He said that of the high-stakes meetings of his trip, "Putin may be the easiest of them all". This is especially valued now, given their own deep internal divisions, which are magnified by the rot in democratic practice in some countries and the damage being done to security and the future of the European Union and Western security caused by Brexit.

President Trump stressed he intends to remodel the U.S.

The official agenda includes a plan for increasing the number of land, air and sea forces capable of reacting quickly in a European crisis, but overshadowing it are tensions generated by Trump's view that the Europeans are slackers leaning unfairly on the USA military.

While the majority of the members are spending more, only five of them are meeting the agreed upon threshold of spending two percent of their GDP on defense. "Will they reimburse the US?" The U.S.is spending many times more than any other country in order to protect them.

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Speaking as he signed a joint EU-NATO declaration on Tuesday with alliance Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Tusk said in a message to Trump that "it is always worth knowing who is your strategic friend and who is your strategic problem".

"And I maybe will speak to him when I get over there".

At the risk of deepening the rift with traditional allies, Trump will then hold a summit in Finland with Putin. It was "immature" to link the two topics, Ursula von der Leyen said. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said her government will increase spending to 1.5% of GDP by 2024. "I've said that many times for many years".

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