Published: Fri, July 13, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Trump opening summit with wary North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies

Trump opening summit with wary North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies

After the summit, Trump will head to London for a state dinner with May.

But Trump appeared earlier to substantially overstate German reliance on Russian energy and to imply Berlin was funding a pipeline that Chancellor Angela Merkel says is a commercial venture.

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

Of the divisions and tensions likely to be in attendance at the Brussels meeting, he conceded that "there are disagreements and different views, and I expect actually also honest and frank discussions during the summit". The two men have met twice before at other events and spoken by phone at least eight times.

Leaders will be keen to hear more about Trump's military approach to Afghanistan, which he revamped last August to include a surge in air strikes to force Taliban militants to the negotiating table. His admonishment came a day before the start of the summit in Brussels.

Merkel and Trump are a study in contrast. He's also dismissed the US intelligence community's assessment that Russian Federation tried to undermine Western democracy by meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election to help him win.

"The best-case scenario is that it's just rhetoric", the European official said of Trump's comments about a United States willingness to maintain its commitment to Europe.

Trump will meet the Russian leader in the Finnish capital on July 16 for their first summit amid an ongoing investigation in the United States into possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia.

Ukraine hopes Trump will push Putin to scale back Moscow's support for the separatists in eastern Ukraine and to soften his position regarding the deployment of a peacekeeping mission to that region. It remains to be seen if scars will be visible on the worldwide stage.

"Dear America, appreciate your allies, after all you don't have that many", Tusk said, before reminding Trump that European troops had come to America's aid following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. "The transatlantic bond is not one, there are many ties, some of them have been weakened". "Germany is at 1%, the U.S.is at 4%".

In a move that echoed his contentious departure from the G7 summit in Quebec, Trump later posted a tweet that appeared to contradict the communique, insisting countries should "pay two per cent of GDP immediately, not by 2025".

World leader summits are largely about optics and presenting a united front to the rest of the world.

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Bottom line: There is no anti-NATO caucus in Congress or the White House. Trump has already enacted sweeping steel and aluminum tariffs on all exporters to the USA, including the European Union, which had been temporarily exempt.

After that handshake in Brussels, the Trump-Macron relationship really took off. In a gesture that would be scrutinized for its meaning, Trump brushed the shoulders of the French president's pristine suit before one of their photo ops. "And I think that is inappropriate also", he added.

Andrew Holland, the director of the American Security Projects' Energy & Infrastructure Studies program, says a USA president's rhetoric matters deeply when it comes to foreign policy.

Policy-wise, the relationship clearly is imperfect. Macron called it "illegal" and a "mistake". On top of that we lose $151 Billion on Trade with the European Union.

Stoltenberg has the challenging task of chairing the first major gathering of western leaders since a Group of Seven meeting last month ended with Trump insulting the host, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

This is a similar outcome to Trump's meeting with Kim Jong Un. The president complained he had been blindsided by Trudeau's criticism of the USA tariff threats.

At NATO, Trump did not specify which countries had committed to what, and it remained unclear whether any had changed their plans.

Tusk, a former Polish prime minister who is president of the European Council, let it be known before the 2016 USA presidential election that he thought "one Donald is more than enough!"

"Dear President Trump: America does not have, and will not have a better ally than Europe", said Tusk.

Trump flew to Europe Tuesday for a week-long trip.

"What people are anxious about this trip is he'll have equally hard interactions with his North Atlantic Treaty Organisation counterparts", including Merkel and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, said James Goldgeier, a visiting senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and professor at American University, who is an expert in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and security alliances. "And who is your strategic problem?"

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