President Trump took a confrontational tone with NATO international locations over their army spending as he departed Tuesday for Europe, even suggesting his extremely anticipated summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin could possibly be the “best” cease on his four-country tour.
The president spoke to reporters as he left the White Home for Brussels, the place he’ll meet with NATO allies. However the summit is anticipated to be tense, amid disagreements over commerce and protection spending.
“I’ve NATO, I’ve the UK, which is in considerably turmoil, and I’ve Putin,” Trump famous. “Frankly, Putin is likely to be the best of all of them. Who would suppose? Who would suppose?”
Trump is anticipated to sit down down with Putin in Finland, after stops in Belgium, England and Scotland. He wouldn’t say whether or not he considers Putin a ‘buddy or foe,’ however that “so far as I’m involved, he’s a competitor.”
He added: “I truly do have a bit of reward for him. You’ll discover out that reward once I give it.”
The 2 leaders are set to debate Syria, Ukraine and a spread of nationwide safety points.
The summit comes amid Particular Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump marketing campaign associates throughout the 2016 presidential election. Trump has repeatedly blasted that probe as a “witch hunt,” and has denied any collusion with the Russians.
Trump has additionally given conflicting statements concerning the function Russia performed in 2016 with reference to interfering with the election. Most lately, the president echoed Russian denials of involvement.
Trump first met with Putin in July 2017 on the G-20 summit. There, Trump pressed Putin on election meddling.
However the first cease on the president’s tour is Brussels for the NATO summit, the place tensions are anticipated to rise partly over tariffs and the potential commerce warfare between the European Union and the U.S. Trump carried out tariffs of 25 % on metal and 10 % on aluminum imports, and the EU is pushing to retaliate.
“It is going to be an attention-grabbing time within the U.Ok., actually it’s going to be an attention-grabbing time with NATO,” Trump mentioned Tuesday. “NATO hasn’t handled us pretty…however we’ll work it out and each international locations can be comfortable.”
Trump additionally has been urgent NATO international locations to satisfy their objective of spending 2 % of their gross home merchandise on protection by 2024. NATO estimates that 15 members, or simply over half, will meet that benchmark primarily based on present developments.
Because the election, Trump has criticized NATO international locations for not paying their justifiable share, whereas suggesting he would solely come to the protection of NATO nations that fulfilled their monetary obligation.
When requested about talks with allies, Trump fired again that the U.S. has been “taken benefit of.”
“We do have quite a lot of allies however we can’t be taken benefit of,” Trump mentioned. “We’re being taken benefit of by the European Union.”
Earlier Tuesday, the president needled NATO over Twitter.
“On the point of depart for Europe. First meeting- NATO. The U.S. is spending many instances greater than another nation with a view to shield them. Not honest to the U.S. taxpayer. On high of that we lose $151 Billion on Commerce with the European Union. Cost us huge Tariffs (& Boundaries)!” Trump tweeted.
He added minutes later that “NATO international locations should pay MORE, america should pay LESS. Very Unfair!”
Trump mentioned as he left the White Home that the U.S. has misplaced $150 billion in commerce, and spends “70 % on NATO.”
“We’ll see what occurs,” Trump mentioned. “I feel getting together with Russia, getting together with China, getting together with others is an effective factor.”
Early Tuesday, European Council President Donald Tusk hit again at Trump, suggesting that the U.S. “does not have and will not have a greater ally than EU,” and took a shot at Trump for his willingness to barter with Russia and China.
“Expensive @realDonaldTrump. US doesn’t have and received’t have a greater ally than EU. We spend on protection way more than Russia and as a lot as China. I hope you don’t have any doubt that is an funding in our safety, which can’t be mentioned with confidence about Russian & Chinese language spending :-),” Tusk tweeted.
The following cease on the president’s tour can be Britain, amid a tumultuous local weather for Prime Minister Theresa Might. Might’s authorities is in turmoil over her plans for exiting the European Union.
This week, U.Ok. Overseas Minister Boris Johnson stunningly resigned amid the rising backlash over Might and her dealing with of Britain’s departure from the EU. Johnson resigned lower than 24 hours after Brexit Secretary David Davis and junior Brexit minister Steve Baker left their posts in protest of how the federal government is dealing with Brexit.
Trump urged Tuesday that he could meet with Johnson when he will get over there.
“I like him,” Trump mentioned of Johnson. “Boris Johnson is a buddy of mine.”
Trump, who has been vocal in his supporter of Brexit, is slated to satisfy with Might on Friday.
When requested whether or not Might would stay in energy, the president responded: “That’s as much as the individuals—lower than me.”
Trump’s tour will proceed with a cease in Scotland over the weekend, then conclude along with his last cease in Helsinki, Finland on Monday.
Fox Information’ Jennifer Bowman, Adam Shaw and The Related Press contributed to this report.