European Union official criticizes Trump over attitude toward allies

European Union official criticizes Trump over attitude toward allies

President Donald Trump attends a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (not pictured) ahead of the NATO summit.

Woody Johnson, Trump's ambassador to the United Kingdom, said the president is aware of the planned protests but insisted that Trump "appreciates free speech" in both countries.

Though NATO has much to be triumphalist about as it stages its first biennial summit at its new billion dollar headquarters in Brussels, many leaders appear anxious as they face the alliance's de-facto leader, Donald Trump, who brings with him tough talk on defence spending.

He leaves Brussels for two days in London Thursday, followed by a weekend in Scotland and his summit with Putin in Helsinki next Monday. Member countries contribute part of their wealth toward defense spending - but Trump says that recently, allies aren't paying their fair share.

But unlike his recent tweets in which he berated allies, Trump struck a more affable tone in person before boarding his flight, remarking that "we will work it out and all countries will be happy".

But after 48 hours of overt conflict with allies - and the second global summit in two months where he has sparred openly with European leaders - he said he looked forward to a positive encounter with the Russian president.

Merkel emphasized the German role in fighting alongside USA troops in Afghanistan and its commitment to the collective defense.

On Monday the USA president tweeted that "NATO countries must pay MORE, the United States must pay LESS".

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tells reporters that when Trump met with the leaders of China and North Korea, "they took him to the cleaners".

For older Russians, the summit venue - Helsinki - reinforces Putin's narrative by evoking memories of Cold War show-downs between the Soviet Union and the United States at a time when Moscow was the capital of a real superpower.

On the dais, he and May chatted as they stood together, but Trump kept his back toward other leaders, including Merkel.




"The situation in Ukraine reminds us that our freedom isn't free, and we've got to be willing to pay for the assets, the personnel, the training that's required to make sure that we have a credible North Atlantic Treaty Organisation force and an effective deterrent force", Obama said.

"I hope that we're going to be able to get along with Russian Federation; I think that we probably will be able to", Trump said.

"The fact that a Putin-Trump meeting will happen says only one thing: that for all its hysteria, the United States is not able to isolate or ignore Russia", said Alexei Pushkov, a prominent Russian senator from the ruling United Russia party.

Experts fear the trip could produce a repeat of the dynamics from Trump's last trip overseas, when he admonished Group of Seven allied nations at a summit in Canada before heading to Singapore, where he showered praise on one of America's longest-standing adversaries, North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

"Just look at the chart", Trump said at the breakfast.

Mr Johnson, the New York Jets American football team owner who was appointed United Kingdom ambassador in August a year ago, took a more conciliatory approach on Wednesday.

But with tensions in the alliance smouldering over Trump's trade tariffs on European steel, his earlier comments fuelled concerns about the USA role in keeping the peace that has reigned since World War Two.

"Remember the word '$33 billion more' they're paying", Trump said in his closing appearance.

"I think that getting along with Russian Federation, getting along with China, getting along with others is a good thing, not a bad thing", he added.

The meeting will be closely watched to see whether Trump will rebuke or embrace Putin, who has repeatedly denied the allegations of election meddling, in spite of evidence to the contrary.

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