Facing anxious European leaders, Trump goes on offensive

Facing anxious European leaders, Trump goes on offensive

Facing anxious European leaders, Trump goes on offensive

Only five members meet the target: Britain, Estonia, debt-laden Greece, Poland and the United States, which spends more on defense than all the other allies combined.

The Europeans, Valasek said, should respond in two ways: "In the short term, focus on preventing the president from abandoning the alliance and, in the long term, prepare to assume a bigger role in defending the European continent". He's also refused to explicitly back their mutual defense agreement.

The NATO summit began with a solemn ceremony inaugurating two monuments at the new headquarters: one with two sections of the Berlin Wall that divided the German city until 1989, and another formed from a piece of World Trade Center 1, a steel beam from the 107th floor of one of the towers downed by al-Qaida extremists on September 11, 2001.

Following the ceremony, the 28 member nations were due to meet in the new headquarters where the main issues on the agenda were counterterrorism and sharing the burden of NATO's budget.

Unlike Vice President Mike Pence and Defense Secretary James Mattis in separate statements earlier this year, Trump never committed to Article 5. He's retracted his vow to label China a currency manipulator and has lavished praise on Chinese President Xi Jinping.

But in Europe, Trump has faced a far cooler reception and has been eager to go on the offensive. Only five members now meet the target: Britain, Estonia, debt-laden Greece, Poland and the United States, which spends more on defense than all the other allies combined.

During a private dinner Thursday night, the 28 members, plus soon-to-join Montenegro, renewed an old pledge to move toward the 2 percent by 2024 - a move the White House touted as a sign of Trump's influence. He scolded other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders and challenged them to pay their "fair share" of defense spending.

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Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May said meanwhile she would raise directly with Trump the issue of leaks from a probe into the Manchester terror attack that have left British authorities infuriated with their United States counterparts.

Trump is slated to leave Brussels late Thursday for the final piece of his trip, a two-day stay in Sicily for G-7 meetings. After rapturous receptions in Saudi Arabia and Israel, and a polite meeting with Pope Francis in Rome, Trump will likely encounter significant protests in a capital city where he is unpopular.

Trump also had lunch with France's new president, Emmanuel Macron, who has been critical of the Republican president.

Arriving at NATO, May said she would "make clear to President Trump that intelligence which is shared between our law enforcement agencies must remain secure".

But the threat of Islamic extremism remained a uniting theme as the specter of Monday's Manchester concert bombing loomed over the summit at the alliance's new headquarters in Brussels.

British officials are particularly angry that photos detailing evidence about the bomb used in the Manchester attack were published in The New York Times, although it's not clear that the paper obtained the photos from US officials. He will meet Thursday with several European Union leaders, including France's newly elected president - Emmanuel Macron, who has been critical of Trump - over lunch. Following the talks, European Council president Donald Tusk said he and the USA president agreed on a need to combat terrorism but some differences loomed large. Other meetings over the two days will include discussions of global economy and climate, a meeting with small African nations - Trump will be seated between the leaders of Niger and Tunisia - and migration issues.

"I'm not 100% sure we can say that we have a common position, a common opinion on Russian Federation, although when it comes to the conflict on Ukraine we were on the same line". He said unity must be found around values like freedom and human rights and dignity.

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